Saltillo tiles skein quick
shivering filaments of rain.
Thin lizard bones and cholla needles
float down arroyos August rosaries.
Cloud banks unstack themselves behind
a low-set moon.
Denise Low writes these lines in “Sangre de Christo Novena,” a poem from her new book, Shadow Light, published by Red Mountain Press. Though of course Low must have composed it long before Santa Fe flooded in July, it reads like the most current of prayers.
Low writes about the high desert with the intimacy of a local, but she is actually a fifth-generation Kansan and served as the state’s poet laureate from 2007 to 2009. She is of mixed British Isles, German, and unaffiliated Delaware (Lenape and Munsee) and Cherokee heritage. She has taught at several colleges and universities, and she founded the creative writing program at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. Her many books include Mélange Block (Red Mountain Press, 2014) and Ghost Stories of the New West (Woodley Memorial Press, 2010).
The poems in Shadow Light are heavily imagistic and sensory, focused on nature and the external world rather than Low’s interior life — though an “I” makes an appearance once in a while in order to anchor a short narrative in place. There is a sense of subtraction in the work, leaving reflection and interpretation in the hands of the reader. — Jennifer Levin
Journey Santa Fe presents a launch party for Shadow Light at 11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 12, at Collected Works Bookstore (202 Galisteo St., 505-988-4226). Low reads from her work, as do Lisa Bickmore and Susan Gardner, the new managing editor and the founder of Red Mountain Press, respectively. For more information, go to collectedworksbookstore.com.