by Margaret Randall
University of Arizona Press, 2007
poetry and prose and photographs, this book is an extended meditation
on time, ancient cultures and the confluence of man and nature in
America's desert Southwest. Beginning with a brief memoir about a
childhood encounter with Nike, the Hellenistic goddess of victory at
Samothrace, author Margaret Randall offers a collection of
work inspired by the compelling mysteries of archaeological sites,
especially a 13th-century Pueblo ruin known as Kiet Seel.
is not as if I haven't been to other ruins," she explains. "I have
visited many, from the great Mayan citadels of Tikal and Palenque to
the seaside retreat of Tulum and chichen Itza's astonishing ball court.
From the precision-fitted rock of Peru's Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo,
Sacsayhuaman, and Pisac to the labyrinthine adobe of Paquime on
Mexico's northern desert... In each of these places I have felt awed.
Possessed by a powerful attraction. But in none have I felt as close to
what life might have been like for its disappeared inhabitants as at
Eight thousand years ago
people some call Desert Culture
of problem and solution.
As Rome fought the Macedonian wars
on the other side of the world
the ancient ones
set up residence in these canyons.
her 14-part poem, "Kiet Seel," Randall recounts the 800-year-old story
of the Puebloan ruins and the excavations of 20th
century archeologists, examining her own longing for connectedness
and ineffability amidst the remnants of a culture that flourished one
day and mysteriously vanished the next. Here, as elsewhere, only the
stones are left as witness to mankind's essential impermanence.