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 and WNMU Bookstore in Silver City or order it on-line through Amazon for $12.95 by clicking:
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
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?
Lying beneath a thick comforter
and far-off stars,
I move over a little,
making my body an island.
Illness drives a wedge
between me and the world.
I crave solitude,
its calm, drifting rhythm.
Close my eyes and become
more than this body,
round a bend
to stand in golden light.
the pale down
on my son’s tiny head,
right at the crown—
Soft spot that dimples in
dives into the body and
Three deer come out of my garden
They may as well have the last of the tomatoes
I silently ask them to leave the pears and roses
and they do.
The two young ones bound up the hill,
while the doe turns to look at me in the dark
We exchange a gaze of love
that seems longer than hours,years.
Back in bed—I feel peaceful,
as if I’d caught some of the deer’s
grace and gentle purpose,
my whole being is content
in a new way
in this world, in this time,
on this moonlit night.
He sat high above,
watching the brown house
with its empty front porch,
broken picket fence,
He heard the shouting,
the slaps, the screams . . .
in the early morning silence.
He saw a large man emerge,
who pushed himself into a red truck,
then drove a crooked path
down the street.
from a restless sleep,
glanced quickly out the window
to see the truck gone,
black raven on the pole.
She looked around,
nothing to take,
nothing she wanted.
Pulled her jacket on
to cover the bruises,
put her purse over her shoulder.
He watched as she walked
down the sidewalk,
not the same way the man had gone.
He swooped down from his perch,
followed her to the highway,
She kept moving,even as she stepped
off the curb. A woman in a pickup
stopped to let her by.
She mouthed thank you, thank you,
a long scar running across her face.
The backyard holds me–
like the mother who never was.
Arms around my back,
my head laid on an emerald shoulder.
Tall wooden slats in the fence
stand guard, unlike my father.
All three gates are latched,
so the trees and I are alone.
I dream against gnarled roots,
highway to the underground,
forging kinship with the soil,
sink down into the earth’s embrace.
Let down my own thick tap root,
lift a greening stem up through the dark,
orphaned no longer,
lift leaf-hands, cupped, to meet the sun.