For the leaves of words that unfold in autumn
when final colors consume the trees like fire.
For the phrases of light that rim the leaves.
For the river that speaks through the forest
and syntax of stones and ferns and the ripple of light.
For the branches that paragraph the leaves.
For the tongues of flame that round the branches
and stones and the full stops of crows.
For the pages of leaves. For the chapters of light.
For the book of the forest that unfolds.
The voice of the palm fronds
draws its breath from the surf,
the measured exhalations
of waves on Estero Beach,
the cathedral of coconuts
on its bank, cantatas
scored with serranos and limes.
Julio translates the voice
with the nib of a pen
from a chair in a cantina,
the loops of his l's and t's
the stems of olives and figs,
his lyric Tequila
in a glass by his plate.
Eucalyptus and jacaranda
whisper the rolled r's
of the tide in his ears,
the prayer of the surf
hymned by paisanos.
Julio pauses to listen to the voice,
and notes in the layered
rosary of leaves
that compose the pastorals
of the evening
the ascending breeze in the cantina,
the lines on his page,
the tortilla o's of the moon.
Pitaya & cholla in the Sierra de Juárez
landscape the ridge of the Rio San Miguel
the desert reversing the sea
the communion of tamarind & cinnamon
on the tongues of arroyos
naming the townships Bajamar, La Salina, Punta Morro
after the sign of the surf
& voice the scroll of the tide in the blue fan palms
& the bleached shells of crabs on the black stone beach
In the orchard of Santo Tomás
heart bruised like a peach
gathers the fruit
the grapes bunched like a rosary
the pears wicked like candles
the sacrament of orange & wheat
in the grove
by the ruins of the mission
& reads in the leaves
of the valley
the book of his faith
yucca mesquite cirio agave
the salt vowels of the breeze
& the text of his litany
on the flecked sea
Under the plums of the moon
I am the laborer
by the wide strokes of the waves
I harvest these lines
the print of the gull & the piper
the ribbon of fig on the mesa
the ray of the brittle-star
brilliant as grace
my hoe is the stalk of a pen
my tablet the pages of corn
my rows are the swells of the Bahía Descansos
Bahía de Todos Santos
the mass of the dry scrub of Baja
the field of the provident sea