Cliff Dwellings, Mesa Verde by Emily Pulfer-Terino

What could we have found there,
awkward with our maps, silences,
grievances? Speechlessness was so
thick, thank god the red, parched road
wound up, starkly, so our breaths
thinned, and the dark, charred shrubs
along the carved—in mesa. I wanted
to be near you again, but you turned
to echoes from those shallow ruins
as ordered and homely as teeth.
How small they must have been.
I found only echoes—and the awful
closeness of people who aren’t there.
Emily Pulfer-Terino is a poet and writer whose work has appeared in Hunger Mountain, The Southeast Review, Poetry Northwest, Stone Canoe, The Louisville Review, Juked, and other journals and anthologies. She has been a Tennessee Williams Poetry Scholar at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference and has been granted a fellowship for creative non-fiction at the Vermont Studio Center. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Syracuse University, and she lives in Western Massachusetts.