Two Poems by Kate O’Neill

Based on photographs by Ansel Adams.

Sunset, Ghost Ranch, 1937

The way light falls clouds could become
an abacus: summing, totaling, subtracting.

First to penumbra then to iridescence.
If clouds had black & white flecked

wings like a speckled flicker: evanescent,
eloquent: each would have it’s own

unpredictable destiny, alighting for an
instant, stunningly embellished.


Sunrise, Laguna Pueblo, 1937

Major chords enter percussive,
across the scene from left, bend

around corners, sound-bounce reflections
from mudded walls. Woke-dog stands solid on

four legs, ears up, tail illumined, face eclipsed.
Indentations in the foot-travelled dirt shatter light

like bitten glass. Stone walls glitter silver as a
tin-mercury mirror amalgam refracts. Not long

ago a west wind moved through here and left the
clouds a mess: inconsolable wisps. As if they were

broken in a dissonant crescendo. Lost, torn-up, scared. The
tall adobe church walls look smooth to the touch, as if made

from ivory, golden fine butter cream, corn silk, old lace,
goat skin—its polished, caressed body newly awakening.

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