Ekphrasis: Sacred Stories of the Southwest

Phoenix, AZ, Obliq Art, 2014

For this show I paired up with artist Richard Bledsoe. His painting Burro fascinated me. A quirky discovery about one Spanish slang meaning for the word burro led me into meditations on the load carried by the burro in the American Southwest—and from there to images of Christ on Palm Sunday.

Burro by Richard Bledsoe

Pack Animal

Some speakers of Spanish say burro for sawhorse—
a sketch in four strokes—the splayed legs,
the load-bearing back, a rendering in wood

that labors but does not feel (as if suffering
cannot exist inside this mute posture, as if
the ragged eruptions now and then

abrading silence are merely sound) but
this animal—from anima, meaning air,
meaning breath, meaning soul, meaning

us—this creature has carried
bedrolls and hardtack, has carried bullets
and desert sun, has carried picks, shovels, dreams,

El Dorado (that weight)—even, one
glorious morning, a carpenter at the gates
of Jerusalem, sunlight slanting

through wisps of cloud, sunlight touched
by the green of palms, the shimmer
of palm light breathed by the burro beneath

the palms. This color. Here. In the blood-dark
canyon of another continent, a later century,
a burro alone, the burden she carries.