Saturday, March 16, 2019


Two mornings now the cactus wren has woken me, but I'm not complaining because it's Mexican. I'm in Mexico. It's hard to believe that the creature making such a ruckus is a bird, and I haven't actually seen it but imagine it to be chunky and grossly sociable. There's a hardscrabble beauty to everything around here in Baja. Yesterday, I took a walk alone toward the ocean, my footsteps the only sound on the sandy path, and the crash of surf only anticipated. An enormous ridge of sand rises at the end of the path, and you have to wind around a long narrow tide pool, edged with grasses and cacti before you climb up and over the ridge to the deserted beach below, the roar (waves crashing) meeting you. I hadn't yet gotten there, gotten to the point where the sound meets you, when I saw in the distance a pack of dogs, maybe five, come up over the far ridge on the other side of the pool. At first I fancied coyotes, then contemplated wolves and settled on dogs, their ears dark v's, spaces between them and wondered where they were going and whether they were wild and what would I do (dumb, non-dog loving American) if attacked and would anyone hear me if the roar of the Pacific was not yet discernible from bird calls much less screams. The dogs were so in the distance, but I could have sworn that they saw me, that they scattered over the dune, scattered toward me, so I stopped and turned around and walked back, quickly, trying not to look back over my shoulder. Over my head, high up in the sky and then past my line of vision flew a long streak of a bird, black-edged and elegant and alone.

A great frigate, the Bird Photographer told me later.

Frigatebirds can stay up in the air for two months without ever touching the ground.

I'm not sure what I want to say about this, how my mind conjures both threat and wonder but it does and it does again no matter the place.

RIP W.S. Merwin

The Solstice

They say the sun will come back
at midnight
after all
my one love

but we know how the minutes
fly out into
the dark trees
and vanish

like the great 'ohias and the honey creepers
and we know how the weeks
walk into the
shadows at midday

at the thought of the months I reach for your
it is not something
one is supposed
to say

we watch the red birds in the morning
we hope for the quiet
daytime together
the year turns into air

but we are together in the whole night
with the sun still going away
and the year
coming back

photo by Carl Jackson


  1. I had to look up cactus wren, cute little birds. I listened to their song too, wow, noisy. It was described as a car motor trying to start. That's what they sounded like. We have house wrens, the tiniest little birds with the biggest voices.

    A pack of dogs, I'd run like hell and I love dogs. I was by myself on a beach once on Vancouver Island and spotted a black bear. I turned out and quickly walked the other way until I had a family of germans between my and the bear. It wasn't that they were german, it's just that there was a group of them and more likely to scare a bear and me by myself.

    And the poem. You know I don't get poetry and you post the most beautiful poems that make me feel and I thank you for that. It's okay to just feel right? It's a kind of understanding.

    Enjoy your time there.

  2. Carl's love for you is clear and true.

  3. Thank you for that bit of poetry, lovely. and for the walk along the beach. The photo of you is simply gorgeous, My FAVORITE! Generally, on your blog, I say that..."MY FAVORITE!" Have a great time down yonder, eat something good!

  4. Beautiful. Even the wild dogs.

  5. You were probably smart to turn around and avoid the dogs. I'm a dog-lover, as you know, but a pack of wild ones could mean trouble. I always avoided the dogs in Morocco because they were essentially wild animals and very unpredictable. It sounds (and looks) beautiful where you are. I've never been to Mexico, and all the American news coverage makes it sound like such a hellhole, but I'm sure it's actually beautiful and fascinating. I should go sometime.

  6. Beautiful... but the potentially feral Dogs would have given me pause too.

  7. The bird photograph makes the most wonderful portraits of you, none of them obvious, which shows his love. And I was worried for you walking alone, meeting those dogs. Take care, as you drink in the beauty of that place. I am so glad to know you are there.

  8. "I'm not sure what I want to say about this, how my mind conjures both threat and wonder but it does and it does again no matter the place."
    Poignant words. I understand, yet I hope you make it down to that beach.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...