Elise Stuart

is poet laureate of Grant County, New Mexico, 2014-2016. Her poetry dances and so does she.




Entering the Wild


                                    -- Elise Stuart


Walking through the bright wide open —

you see a narrow path, turn to follow . . .

Down in the creek bed,

sudden shade greets you from both sides.

Sweeping your vision along the banks,

looking for tracks in the sand,

listening for the sound, the scurry, of animals.

Above your head, the trees are your canopy,

a bird calls out his song over and over,

the smell of green―

breathes around you.


Entering the wild you go back,

to the time before this time . . .


It was always this way,

when we walked the paths slowly,

gathered by the muddy river to wash,

looked into each others' eyes,

spoke without words.


You keep walking through an old orchard that once was,

then a steep slope carries you down,

and you hear, then see —

a waterfall, splashing quietly,

trickling down over rocks,

lively, gentle,

flowing into a shallow stream at the bottom.


You rest,

water cooling your feet.

The silence, so big―only the sound of water . . .

You breathe. This place is like the place inside

that becomes real when you listen, trust.

Entering the wild, you are not afraid.

You have never known fear.


That broken branch, hanging limp from above,

the soft green leaves of the mullein, growing in a mutant clump,

the shattered egg shell,

some small bird may have begun to live in, then died. 


You see the world in a new way.

Each leaf, each animal, each heart, your heart

is perfect, full of beauty, with all its imperfections.

This is a place where the truth of wild beauty still exists.

This is a place where everything teaches you.









                 -- Elise Stuart


Driving to Gila a little too fast, heading away from town,

Turning around the bend, seeing the folded, brown hills come in view—

My heart rushes to greet them.

And suddenly—

I’m writing.


Lying on a sandy bed of rocks,

the river speaking and singing,

its unending, enduring message

to anyone who’ll listen—

I’m writing. 


Afternoon, standing at the kitchen sink,

pushing the sponge around the curved

edge of a glass bread pan,

trying to free the last crumbs—

I’m writing


The world is suddenly

alive with understanding.

Every action, sacred.

The veil lifts—

I see beyond . . .


The ordinary is meaningful.

Other worlds breathe.

Now I know there is more than this tired old place of birth and death.

Hear the secret whispered to me,

I nod my head. Yes, yes.