John Poch

Naming A Child

A dozen scaled quail weave their worried patter
through the sage brush to our back porch.
I cluck and the lookout mother
on the bush looks up, the chicks scatter.
An orange wasp mauls passionately the spearmint flowers.
An old story, the birds and bees come to summer.


Waking just an hour ago,
I watched you shift within
your mother’s belly in the morning sun
like someone kneading dough
from inside out, awkwardly comic
but sacramentally tragic in your work,
your play. On the stage of the wet desert dust,
this humble mud, did the blood-bright sun wake you
and, with last night’s brief rain, make you
something new like an adobe church
whose rounded buttresses breathe, shine,
and shadow in the first long light?


How can I write of ghost towns and mining
when there are clouds that look like fat horses
leaping from the mountains?
I know the hands of old men trembled
when whole gold nugget buddhas
like tiny babies tumbled
from the quartz veins in these mountains,
but the blonde tufts of those quail
and the hunger of the wasp shine now.
Little actor, play within a play,
body at the center of a body,
nearly mythic beloved of mine
and heaven and the birds between,
I am your audience applauding.
My prayer: turn toward the light the same
as you will turn toward your name.