Poetry gives me a chance to document reality in an emotional way.
I have lived in New Mexico for twenty-three years now. I bought my house nine days after I drove into town. From the start, I loved watching the way the clouds bubbled and shifted. The light blistered like a lit match, especially on overcast days, and I realized I needed this sort of glory. The climate was nearly perfect. Summers were not too warm and never sticky like the East Coast had been. And they came with the magic of blissful, brief thundershowers each afternoon.
Winters were cold enough, but not bone-chilling or alarming. The worst part of the season has always been the wind—a dry, dusty force. Sometimes, winter is empty-feeling, and the wind makes everyone in my household anxious. “I’ve started naming the landscape: sweet,” my poem in North American Review, is a paean to our desert winter, one that is changing and warming and further drying as the climate shifts.
I tell my students to document details for historical measure. What is real now will change. I can think of any intersection in town and know that the corner stores have been replaced numerous times while I’ve lived here. The residents of Taos give directions by the old blinking light, which no longer exists. Gas prices fluctuate. Everything evolves. And so, it seems, the weather does too.
It’s important to capture a place at a particular time, and it is a pleasure to write about something uncomfortable (which winter is, for me). I am entranced by the stark encounter of wind with the page as I tackle this subject. It stops irritating me when it blows, insistent, through my language.