P. V. Beck
Bio: P. V. Beck’s most recent poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines including the Western Humanities Review, Fourteen Hills, California Quarterly, Camas, Cloudbank Books, The Tule Review, Pilgrimage, Canary, among others. She holds a Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her scholarly articles and essays on ecology and consciousness, the fool, ritual clowning, and poetic language have appeared in Parabola, The Boston Review, New Mexico Magazine, and various collections. Her essays on fly fishing and trout have been published by The Seal Press, Trout Magazine, and Lyons Press. She is the author of The Sacred: Ways of Knowledge, Sources of Life, first-person readings from North American indigenous groups, the YA novel, Sweet Turnaround J, and the editor of a volume of poems by Maeve Butler, The Mighty Branches of the Heart. She was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant for the creation of a museum exhibit and book, Oremos, Oremos: New Mexican Midwinter Masquerades, as well as grants from New Mexico Humanities Council and The Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. She lives in the mountains of northern New Mexico where she is an artist, musician, and works on habitat restoration in her watershed.
Pawns in the Game
Fox’s forage stores are emptythe bleak never-ending tundra outside her den is a dormant desert.Over this inert expanse a day sneaks its way to hold out longer,ice gives up in shifts and cracksa tremble of difference alights the dawn.In the dwindling darkness an owl’s wing brushes a spent snowdrift—an oracle at the outer edge of winter.Fox and her skeleton shake off days of hibernating and retrace old haunts,sniffing old scents in the exposed leaves soggy with melt.This bend to Fox’s life happens because the earth springs its movesby dancing with odd spheres and nonsensical melodies;its consorts are pawns in the game of seasons,scavengers like Fox the desperado slogging through her troves,paltry scatterings leaching their pittance into the seams of spring.A hawk’s shadow sweeps across the quiet landcircling in thermals of an unfamiliar wind that scatters weary birds from far away.In that slight of hand Fox crouches amid the absent emptiness,spring that seeps from ice and stone, a hungry creature at the breaking day.
The Gambler and The Summer Moon
When the full moon rises over her sultry den Fox sets out on a wave of scents,close and still, faraway and restless.It’s always a gambleevery night Fox is a rambler in a game of chance.She covers miles in the gleam of the moonrustling old leaves with the throw of the dice,parting tall grasses swift as snake eyes.Sometimes mice caught flirting in the open dance recklessly into Fox’s jaws,and sometimes there are nothing but whispers and shadowsin the nightly turn of the wheel.Stars roll across her back, the hours tick away.Fox has no cares, tonight moonlight is her accomplice—until the haze of dawn pulls the ruddy moon below the rim of the mesaand Fox trots along the horizon with an orange in her mouth,dreaming of rabbits soft as summer mornings.
Fox wanders hungry through a bitter rain,a raven with an apple in its beak flies from a tree bare of leaves.Snow has dusted the flank of the mountainthe aspens’ gold is gone in a flash.Down in the valley the cottonwoods along the streamare a tangled maze of dead limbs and drifting leaves.A lone elk makes a question mark in the meadowthen disappears into morning mist.At the jagged tipping point of fallevery warm thing fades into a bleak and empty landscape,a washed-out water color sliding into the abyss of winter.Fox slogs around the pond—no tadpoles in the muck, no frog songs, no licorice willow smells.She stalls out forlorn and wails—lost without animals, lost without animals.Her whirligig mind can’t make her warm,she’s lost her scent and the paths that lead to voles and mice;perhaps the sun will never rise againor like the smoky never-ending fogs,rise and then surrender to the ice.
A spider clears its web of gnats and sorts the empty casings of its prey,plucking across the web’s concentric filaments from the center to the outer ring.Dawn slips over the mountain when Fox comes home to her den.It’s a shamblesfilled with twigs, berries, mouse livers, beetles, chipmunk tails, and apple skins.Gleaning her hollow Fox paws her trove of summer spoils down the slope,her tail a brush mark against the sky’s hibernal blue.She falls asleep on a bed of pine needles while the sun traces its quickened arc over the forest.The spider vanishes from its web, the icy pond will moan,the moon will fill her tracks again when Fox fills her den with bones.
Watery constellations flow across a cold night skybut Fox’s stream is still frozen over.The afternoon light basks on the horizon a little longerbut Fox still tunnels in snow up to her ears.River, Deer, and Fish roll off the edge of the celestial equator,the hull of an earthly ship shifts in the solar tidea slow twisting movement like a bear turning over in its cave.Nudged by astral clockworksa relentless creaking and cracking works to break a seam in the frozen earth,a seam that lets out secrets—weasel words, bursting seed husks, the heat of worms.Fox’s shadow in the morning marks a point of light when the earth tilts just so.She can tell something has changed—a meteor is warm to the touch,the light of the moon makes prism flowers on the snow.