My Baja Arizona Year


November 11, 2017

Issue 27: November/December 2017Poetry

What would happen if you thought of a whole year as a poem? From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2016, I wrote a line of poetry every day in my notebook. Ever since moving to Tucson in 1997, I’ve been enchanted by seasonal shifts that differ from the East Coast climate of my childhood. I was curious whether poems written over the course of a year would reflect these seasonal shifts, as well as current events and changes in my own life. These are five poems from my year, one for each of Baja Arizona’s five seasons: spring, foresummer, monsoon, fall, and winter.

Early Spring

(Feb. 14-24)

The dream protects the body

as much as the mind, still green

and pale brown

I walked barefoot over the freeze

growling fever.

Every so often a deep breath

overcame my ribs

to crane over

the Santa Cruz, if there’s water

this time of year, if a friend

rests there

dragging cassia blooms.

I would not demean myself,

for all the world

up slope

should be blank


Lights off east west blue gold

should a story be told


(May 30–June 4)


hawk hand

who tore the wings off the

summer junco and left them

side by side by the creekside,

pollen-daubed chrysalis rolling.

Chest stretches

through a kissing gate, oh

instinct could carry you somewhere

in this suffering heat.


(July 13–Aug. 1)

Is this still heaven

like 20 years ago?

it’s not getting better

to hear the smallest sounds

through moonlit lichen fields

I carry a vivid and incomplete

road trip in my head

always know by where the

mountains are, even at night

with my glasses off

inchworming until I reach

the doorway

now you run

thoughts on a friend in Michigan

swimming in the late morning

flick! flick! like a mockingbird,

ice blue,

saw four stars

the bright green center,

no more fig beetles—

tonight the wings got

torrented away

giant, hard, asphalt-inflected


say what I want to say—

alone all Friday afternoon

as on most Friday afternoons

summoned by a green storm

she rejoined her sisters in

the grass and dirt

moored by green, I mean

anchored by it


(Nov. 16–30)

Did my letter reach you?

The underside of those

delicate leaves, nearly

dead, but not so,

coming to the brink,

because you’re still alive,

empty and easy, and I

was never so good

at letting the world in,

not by description, by taste:

in the unassailable secret

nearly silent language

we speak to each other

when the air is too dry

to shout to each other.

The wind brings dust

to the valley

and rain and the difference

between refuge and sanctuary:

a gradual reweaving

written conversation

in the ground begins

to search for new

green shoots.

Some lives seem endless,

can you even say

where they turned?

Nausea to peace.

I recycled most of

your letter, but I kept

some, and I will

write back to you.

Over six hundred

folded miles

I understand things as

I write them down.


(Dec. 20–31)

I can see

by the time civil twilight

ends I’ll have drunk my water

and made my tea

planted my presence

facing east

wind’s thought, rain’s voice

I crave a day

that’s different

a tiny welling up of blood


my center string puckers

when I hit the outside air

needing to feel that the word

has meaning love clarity

meeting the world outside

the window, spooning sand

into a glass globe

every onion skin, every

eggshell comes back into

our life, in another season

and a new way

curious about the clouds

and the earth we’ve created

the mountains offer



Wendy Burk is the author of Tree Talks: Southern Arizona (Delete Press), a book of poetry. She is the translator of two poetry collections by Tedi López Mills, Against the Current (Phoneme Media) and While Light Is Built (Kore Press). A Tucson resident for the last 20 years, Wendy works as the librarian at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.

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