Singers in the Canyons

by Emily Strauss

For the singers who had always lived there
rain over the corn fields signaled the expanses
of oncoming blue butterflies that hovered

over hand prints blown through outstretched
fingers onto rocks high on the cliff walls,
cool and dark in the soaking winter.

They gathered in long rooms to eat and trade
verses of song poems over the blossoming
beans, spilling green onto the red earth.

We bear witness to what we already have:

the streams that rush down the mesas
leaving patterns of wet sand with drops
on the leaves, the rivulets singing as they fall.

The singers were aware of their movements,
the wind that brushed the moon at sunrise
so pale that wetness became invisible.

They sat still, full of  night’s echoes, the floor
damp from the fogs that rose from the valley.
The singers noted the first white rays slanting

into the canyon shadows, the silence, and how
it fell thick afterward, as they rose stiffly
and stumbled toward their stone cliff houses.

Musical composition by Victor David Sandiego

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry. Over 100 of her poems appear in dozens of online venues and in anthologies. The natural world is generally her framework; she often focuses on the tension between nature and humanity, using concrete images to illuminate the loss of meaning between them. She is a semi-retired teacher living in California.


Enjoy the rhythm of this poem. Good reading Ms. Strauss. It evokes a sense of an ancient culture in a way that is both solemn and respectful.
Lee Johanson, Mar 18, 2014