A Strange Beauty

New Mexico Magazine has recently been featuring items from its archives on its back pages. This poem from the June 1953 issue was resurrected in the June 2014 issue. There are lines in this poem that ring so true I wish I’d written them and others that sound forced or stilted to me. I’m sharing the whole thing so the gems can shine in their setting.

 

Where Whisper the Rocks

 

“Which state is your favorite?” the man asked

            “New Mexico …”

Sharp-clipped the answer came, and positive.

“Which part?”

            “The Southern part, the desert.”

As sharp the syllables, as positive as before.

“I love it. The Northern part, too—

That stretch, now, from Santa Fe to Taos,

The Sangre de Cristos, the Cimarrons—

There’s beauty and grandeur there—

But the desert …

That part from El Paso to Lordsburg,

And up to Santa Rita where

Prays the Kneeling Nun at nature’s rocky altar …

I’ve never known wherein lies its allure

Except that it takes hold of man

Like the spirit of the one woman he cannot do without.

A strange beauty the desert has

And a harshness that’s soft as love itself

To the heart that feels it …

            Yes, I’ll take the desert, friend

            And I’ll take it in New Mexico

            Where Whisper the rocks themselves,

            ‘Vaya con Dios, amigo.’”

By Sam Lesky. New Mexico Magazine Vol. 92, issue 6, p. 72

 

The words that grabbed me are these:

… it takes hold of man

Like the spirit of the one woman he cannot do without.

A strange beauty the desert has

And a harshness that’s soft as love itself

To the heart that feels it …”

It takes hold of a woman, too.

Here’s a picture of the rock formation the poet refers to

http://www.pbase.com/aw11mr2/image/87186372

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