Literary Hook: Poem: ‘Mesa Verde’

Christine Swanberg
Christine Swanberg

By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet

Tomorrow, I am leaving for a spiritual and literary pilgrimage to the Taos/Santa Fe area. I say pilgrimage because I had my first spiritual encounter in the Sangre De Cristo mountains when I was a teenager at Young Life Camp. The Poetry Rendezvous, a small eclectic gathering of poets from across the U.S., is being held this year at the Sagebrush Inn in Taos. Through the magical poetry network, I will be giving a reading and workshop, “The Shape a Poem Makes.” This particular poem is shaped like the clay bowls fashioned at the Taos Pueblo, which I visited some 30 years ago. I will be keeping a travel/poetry journal from this trip, which I hope will be the inspiration for the next few Literary Hooks following my return.


The circle reigns in the kivas

near the threshold of the Taos Pueblo

where sun-baked women fish round loaves

or roll the dough into perfect globes

press the center in as though

they’d form clay bowls.

It fills the iron pot

and puffs up like a patty pan squash.

Their earthen urns have loaf-size rims,

centers pearled and leather-thin,

and etched into their sides —

the angled stamps of ancestors.

They weave their baskets

spinning a pot of reeds.

And here the smoke forever twines

around the terra cotta walls, where

the Sangre De Cristo mountains

wrap around them like a shawl.

First published in Rhino journal, then in Invisible String (Erie Street Press).

From the Sept. 3-9, 2014, issue

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