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"Quiet Moments": a poem by Heather Lang-Cassera

Quiet Moments

— after a threatened species

 

 

The desert tortoise makes its way,

not as if she could move mountains;
 

she is the buttes & saddlebacks themselves

& is too perfect to be a fixed part


of this dust-splashed earth.

She swishes sand, leaving wing-shaped tracks,


& on her back, carries a detailed

topographic map: the delicate lines,


contours of relief,

or manifestations of the gaps


we fill with silence

& other absent declarations.


Together, we hear the hearty hissing

& guttural grunts, warning


us to keep our distance;

at first, we thought the tortoise


was a snake, but we learn

that even our palms,


such unquiet basins,

can ache. 

 

Heather Lang-Cassera is the Clark County poet laureate

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