A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
for Paul Kaplow A dusty paint cloth of rust and ochre, the desert before us as we pass shark fins of agave & prickly-ribbed saguaro. At Cordes Junction, down a rutted road in your chrome Buick, looking for Arcosanti. I remember the loose-leaf of your black hair, your nails chewed down, a habit you couldn’t break. Behind a sardonic smile, you were a believer, hungry for the sublime edge of knowing. I was a skeptic, pretending a smile, while coldly reckoning how soon all this optimism in concrete would be riprap on a cluttered planet. We found Soleri among the disciples: a hair shirt left on the line. As we cast the silt, he spoke: frugality connectedness In a downpour we drove past bristle brush, armadillos to the City of Angels, bearing a bronze wind bell of sea-green patina. The agave, burnt yellow in the sun, roots deep. Soleri endured, crowned with a nimbus of hair, his dream no closer. For though we speak of biosphere, of resources sustainable (you knew this, didn’t you?) we want— we want—the ranch house, the half-acre, with an unobstructed view of mountains.
Copyright 2020 Joan E. Bauer. A version of this poem was previously published in Italian Americana.