Alta Mater

Alta Mater

The day is perfect!                                                                                                                                         

The canyon is wall to wall applause:

Every pine needle is laughing

     Whole bows bouncing,

         Whole trees dancing;

Their mirth billowing upward in clouds of yellow confetti.

Celebration needs no justification,

But today is witness to a graduation.

The breeze is becoming a wind.

Hear it oscillating one to the other in an adolescence

   unpredictable, but fluid;

more graceful than the voice of a boy

   calling himself to manhood

   through a larynx climbing backward,

   in wrong-footed shoes

down a deepening throat.

Occasionally a pinecone breaks free,

Bouncing from branch to bow

   amid this audience of lanky misfits

    down to the thick-woven floor

And blending in,


Like the jettisoned mortar-board ,

   Having made its last, high-hurtling statement,

Disappears among shiny shoes and robes.

They’ve gone quiet now.

Are my thoughts too loud?

Am I interrupting a speech?


I will let this conceit fall to my lap,

Just another name in the program celebrating

1000 names for the One Self.

Graduation is perpetual here.

What is there to say, really,

that isn’t said daily

in the ever flipping coins and blinking quarks of life and death,

And in the wind born again and again

   and milling between the

     Is and isn’t,

     the standing and falling,

       the logs now hollow and still clad in green.

It is always graduation day, here;

Though here are no teachers or students;

Only contagion:

   The contagion of becoming.

And the silence breathing,

   sounding the notes behind every voice,

As the mountainside sings my Alma Mater.

(No Pomp; All Circumstance.)

May 13, 2017
Bear Canyon, Randall Davey Audubon Center,
Santa Fe, NM

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