Where Are You….Really?

Rio Grande del Norte by Randy Crutcher

By Randy Crutcher

Where are you?

Not GPS coordinates, not Google Earth,
not AP number, not county, not zone, not subdivision or development,
not city, not district, state, country or nation
not street, road, highway or interstate
Where do you stand, what ground or soil holds you
up against the downward force of gravity?

What forms, fields, feelings and murmurings flow
in and around you
as you take in your surroundings in foreground and
back of creation?
What happened here before you
to make it all possible?
What moved and yet moves?

What forces rose up, carved or blew away what only
temporarily seems to stay
to make this place you are in
during this tiny but significant moment
in the echo chambers of time?

Here I am

I reside on the upper banks of the Arroyo Hondo,
a wide swath of sand, gravel and silt ephemerally flooded
when torrents of water rush down and spread out
miraculously moving masses of large boulders and rock,
floating islands of gnarled root trees
deposited all further and further toward the depths of
the many hundred mile Rio Grande Rift
in fits and starts over millennia

I’m perched upon an alluvial fan, the slow moving sediment
of the eroding but still high peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
the very tailbone of the great Rocky Mountains
I live amidst a Juniper-Piñon Pine woodland on the high steppes
at the edge of the Colorado Plateau, an island of land
that began its longer journey north down by the Equator epochs ago

Not far upstream of the arroyo
are the studied remains of a village
where centuries ago
humans learned about climate change and how to adapt to it
They spoke tongues, though now under threat
can still be heard spoken today
Tanoan, Keresan and more

These people, as I do, listened to coyote song,
grew food and hunted within the limits of their locale
and when conditions changed moved on,
sometimes splitting up and traveling in different directions,
resettling where it made more sense

I look to the West across the high steppes and see the remains of
a once massive volcano within which lie younger volcanoes
and a sea of waving grass parted by roaming herds of elk

At night beneath a vast umbrella of stars I see
the spangled lights of a small town
and large laboratory sprawled across square miles of volcanic ash
It’s called Los Alamos, the birthplace of weapons of mass destruction,
some of its inventors having believed just one explosion
could have destroyed the entire planet as we know it

I look around and give thanks that has not happened
I take in the beauty, and begin to walk into that beauty
as I vow to do all I can to protect that beauty in this tiny
but significant moment

And now, I ask again
Do you know where you are….in both place and time…really?