I am excited to announce the publication of my new book, Another Door Calls. In this—my first published poetry collection—the reader is invited to step into the stark beauty of the desert as I explore the wilderness of a far corner of southwestern New Mexico. Rivers and mountains become my teachers on this journey as I come to know the terrain more intimately. The land and water become mirrors revealing themselves to me, revealing my own inner landscape in startling silence and the language of poetry. Another Door Calls is published by Mercury HeartLink and illustrated with photographs taken by Glenn Henderson.
Award-winning poet and WNMU emeritus professor Bonnie Buckley Maldonado has praised Another Door Calls this way: “Elise Stuart has immersed herself in the high desert, integrating the harshness of spring flooding and the many months of drought to recreate them in the glorious lines of her poetry. It is because she discovers beauty within destruction, and sees wisdom within chaos, that she is able to invite the reader to seek more than meets the eye.”
You can buy Another Door Calls at the Javalina Coffeeshop in Silver City or order it on-line through Amazon for $12.95 by clicking:
The trapeze swings out
and it’s hard to let go. In between can be a hard place,
meant to teach you
to trust in something more than your own mind.
When your hands
slip from the bar,
do you glimpse the one
whose wrists you can grasp
flying toward you in the night?
The heart yearns to fly, to soar—
but you’ve forgottenhow to be free.
Always hanging on so tight, afraid of the ride,
risky, thrilling, a little dangerous.
A gift lies buried beneath it all.
Unwrap yourself from what you know,
let go and rise into the air,
into the deathless, exhilarating moment of surrender,where everything is all right.
Where love surrounds you, holds you,
and a woven net of blue light,
as big as your willingness to forgive
with infinite patience.
The heart, shattered and torn
by past recollections,
memories of being left, alone.
So many gone, parents-friends-loves,
that the heart begins bleeding, brooding,
running its hands over the same stretch of nails,
so that the heart senses it must shut.
Like the locks
ships pass into,
closing its gates to rise above
instead of just staying open
and letting the water rush through—
Then maybe one day, the heart sighs,
breaks open a little,
and finally the breathing slows, deepens,
and the heart sits down, fork raised,
at the table with friends and once-perceived enemies,
ready at last, to dine on forgiveness.
Step into another world, dim and misty,
to find my mother.
The leaving began on a summer night,
eight more years pass and finally one morning,
Just up ahead, I hear footsteps
and the swish of her coat.
Walk, then run, down a long courtyard
trying to catch sight of her.
After many years,
realize I can’t chase her anymore.
sit on a gray curb.
a tiny halo of light falls around me.
Love, like a lariat, hauls me up
from a deep well.
Break through a thin veil of ice,
my face lit by the sun.
A smile undoes my mourning
and I remember one thing to thank her for,
the way she read to me.
Watch the sun color the sky orange,
over the lip of the mountain to the east.
Tiny bird tracks are the ones you follow,
yellow and purple flowers cover the ground.
Make your body twist and bend
under a barbed wire fence.
Weeding squash next to tall, pink zinnias,
bells of blue-white sesame flowers.
Large black bees hum,
while butterflies dance above the rows.
The silence is so big
you can’t find your place in it.
Then, one day,
it’s part of you.
Head to the ditch in a roundabout way.
Even though the cool is what you want more than anything,
you wait,take your body in slowly,
feel the water ride up your thighs.
In the middle, where the water is deepest,
find a place where the creeks come together,
you—the land—the water
She squats on haunches at creek’s edge, listening.
Cicadas croon to flowers, stomas open.
Water sings over rocks while
wind blows through stillness.
Rising, sun on naked back,
feeling like every ancient woman,
she climbs a small rise and looks out,
as if she could see the future.
“I don’t get you,” her friend says.
How can she explain the pull to return
to a life centered on trees, river, land, seeds?
When to plant, when to harvest,
everything depending on nature’s time.
At sundown in a field where sesame grows,
he cuts and hands her slender, dry stalks.
Holding them upside down,
white seeds plummet into a pail—
sound of a rain stick.
Not sure yet, who she is becoming,
only knowing her senses are awake; her love, strong.
She does not want to go back to small talk
and nervous laughter.
like watering the strawberries and currants,
because they are up and leafing,
or carrying the wicker basket,
full of wet clothes,
down the steps and out by the trees.
One could miss the way
the fingers squeeze together
the top of the clothespin to
attach the seam of the blue shirt
to the swaying clothesline.
One could miss the moment,
when the sprinkler is moved around,
that each small strawberry plant drinks in water,
up from its root tips.
One could miss these details of care,
one could look back over the day and say only,
I washed the clothes.
I watered the garden.
One could miss all of these—
how the brown socks are
carefully laid out to dry.
I don’t want to go on about it,
but isn’t it the small things,
the little acts of love,
that keep this heartrending world
spinning on its axis?