The Salty River Bleeds by Stephen Page

salty
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By g emil reutter
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Stephen Page provides the reader a look into an unfamiliar life in this fictional account of life on the ranch. He tells us in The Legend of Wood:
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We all have our stories to tell.
The weak and the strong, the rich
And the poor, the old and the young.
Which story do you have to tell, and
From which point-of-view do you wish to person?
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Page has a poetic story to tell. He captures the beauty of nature, violence of the ranch, love of a spouse and of course his muse. These beautiful images are from the first two stanzas of this poem:
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Muse in Different Forms:
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I see you walking through Wood,
though your image is ephemeral:
yellow eyes and blood-blonde hair,
linen robe and leather sandals dissolve
as I enter the tree line then solve as suns.
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One day as Teresa and I drive through
Santa Ana’s gates, we see Old Man
shimmering upon the dirt road wearing
a tattered coat, and as we approach him
his unshaven face and he disappear.
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Here we have the beautiful muse, ephemeral, linen robe and dissolving leather sandals, of the old man shimmering upon the dirt road. Simply beautiful writing.
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In the poem Fauna he captures the beauty of nature in the third and fifth stanza with fresh images of rosemary, sough of Delphi’s cloud, bumblebee with red clover tongue and Artemis with sunburnt face and parched lips:
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Rosemary outside my matera window
Scents the sough of Delphi’s cloud
Buzzed northerly by the bumblebee
Brandishing his long red clover tongue.
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And never touching barefoot Delos
Artemis leaned over fresh cut grass
With sunburnt face and parchment lips.
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Page does not shy away from the violence of the ranch as in the excerpt from Cattle Rustler:
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In the shade of the trees next to the chute
you glared at us and unsheathed
your silver facón and sharpened it,
then shaved a calf’s hindquarter
looking for the brand
you knew was not there.
You were calm and meticulous in your shaving
but when Notary whispered to Advisor
that that calf and the other ten
were much fatter than the other calves on the ranch
you jerked your hand,
slicing the calf’s flank, cutting off
any denial.
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He captures the calmness of the shade tree coupled with impending violence of the silver facón, the cutting of the meat of the innocent in a calm and meticulous manner. Yet, here it is without any denial. He returns to nature in the first stanza of the poem, Satellites:
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The tree frogs called the rain last night,
but the rain did not answer.
The intermittent croaking, about
every hour or so, was followed by
a gust of wind and the scent
of water, but no sprinkle, no pour.
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The image of tree frogs calling the rain is not one we think of often, but a rancher might. Yet there was no rain, just a gust of wind and scent of water. Hope for rejuvenation.
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In this collection, Page captures ranch life and the woodlands that surround the ranch. In the midst of nature, man’s violence, of rustlers, tattler’s, of gaucho’s he writes of the queen of his kingdom in this beautiful poem:
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Teresa: Translator
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You are the translator of my day.
I fall into your graphite eyes
When we transmute,
I find your hands
The hands of a maker:
Soft and crafting.
I want to caress the curve
Of your lip,
Speak to your breasts.
Become my left ear
And I shall remain my right—
Where we meet we will middle.
The spider feasts
In the web of my thoughts,
And pastures modern
The corners of your culture—
Remove the weeds
Of your socialization.
Idiom me,
Invite me into the woods of your words,
Seat me at your banquet table.
You are the coffee of my mornings,
The mate of my afternoons.
Why do you hide your syllables
Under your tongue?
Don’t you ever question
The power of words,
The meaning of sleep?
Yes, I know you do,
In nightmares—
And in this I second your revival.
The grass grows at night,
And in the heat of mosquitoes,
So let the windflowers grow.
Language me inside Wood,
Ranch me where the city
Has not yet encroached.
Marsh me where the ranch cannot reach.
You are the queen of my kingdom,
That I have so temporally created.
You are the singer of my verse.
Interpret my dreams.
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The Salty River Bleeds is a collection of poetry built in harsh realism, myth, nature and love. Page is a master of his surroundings as he is a rancher. His powerful use of images blended with the reality of ranch life marinates throughout the collection. Get the book, you will be better for it.
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g emil reutter is a writer of stories and poems. His latest release is: Stale Bread and Coffee

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