Voices on the Wind
by Cappy Love Hanson
Tsiregeh is an unexcavated ruin in north-central
New Mexico, near Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Both Tsiregeh (Tewa) and Pajarito (Spanish)
mean Little Bird.
Itís the Labís land now, junipered mesas
chain-linked, razor-wired, adjacent
to Pajarito Road and centuries separated.
On the biennial tour, twenty at a time climbing
a mesa flagged with pot shards, bones of rabbit
and bear and dear, ancient wall stones unstacked
by frost and windy hands. Its power now is not
in having towered three Neolithic stories
but in its introverted, exquisite collapse.
A communal melancholy subdues our groupís
jaunty calls. One mathematician asks the docent
what year the Anasazi ceded their city--was it
to sickness, drought, or spear-wielding warriors?
A physicist stoops to retie his hiking boot, pries up
bird-bone whistle fragments. Starts to slip them
into a cargo pocket. When a geneticist pays him
pointed attention, he feigns innocent inspection,
turns each finely painted portion over, presses
them back one into their impressions
in preserving earth.
As we hike out, an administrative assistant
vaults a ruined tuff wall, nearly plants a shoe
beside a baby rattler, coiled, hatched with all
the venom it needs for its first kill. Shifted
forward on the down-step, she violates
the inevitable arc, lifts and lands a yard
beyond. Magic, desperate suspension
of natural law, shakes and vibrates
the universeís strands like harp strings.
Hand-chipped serpent petroglyph glides
a cliff face, watching.
For an evening, we adopt the ancients
as our own. We drive them home, imagine
the crock pot as a clay vessel with roasted
stones tossed in to flash-boil corn, squash,
chunks of wild turkey meat. In declining
sunlight, finches whose ancestors picked
through Tsiregehís kitchen middens peck
the lawn for the dayís last grass seeds.