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On a morning, sharp with winter, fresh with cold, I rise and walk on mesa paths,
red with longing-mine, red with loving-mine.

In slivers of air, here and there, smells of sage come and go. But their memory always lingers.

Bluejays dart through juniper without even a hello. But ravens stop and chat.
From the tops of topmost branches, they say: one day, you’ll understand our conversation.
And it maddens me. By which I mean, it gladdens me beyond belief. Or rather, into it.

For I do believe.
I believe in the trinity of piñon, sage and juniper.
I believe in the holy ghosts that live in yellow plains, drained of green but not of life.
I believe in lavas that bind mesas so they do not yield, not easily, not yet.
I believe in rocks that I know by name but that don’t know me, not now, not yet.
(One day, they will.)
I believe in birdsong that persists through winter and heartsong that keeps the land beating through droughts, rains, snows, love, loss, betrayal.
I believe in immenseness, space and a spirit I have found again, by another name,
in another guise.
I believe. Finally, I believe.


Shebana CoelhoShebana Coelho is a writer and documentary producer. Her work has been broadcast on National Public Radio, The Discovery Channel, and BBC Radio Four. She received a 2007 Fulbright grant to Mongolia to experience and record life in nomadic communities. Shebana was born in Bombay, India and is currently living in geographical limbo.


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15 Comments

Shebana, what a lovely poem.  We met while you were in Mongolia five years ago, and I am reading this here in Ulaanbaatar.  It was a pleasant surprise to see your name at the bottom.  All my best, Lauren.

Hi Lauren, a lovely surprise to hear from you too. It took me back to Mongolia - where I've been - in spirit anyway -- for the past month or so, re-editing all my audio from my time there. I'm hoping to be back back next year sometime. Please keep in touch - I think you still have my email address - if not, I think I have yours :) sain suuj baigaarai 

Well it is great you're thinking of coming back to Mongolia. I'm sure a lot of the people you've met would be ecstatic to meet you again. See you soon! ;)

This is beautiful.  it speaks to me in many many ways :)

Really this is great idea and superb information about this article i got a lot from this article..

Beautiful. I was in Sedona this year, and also in the Australian Outback, this poem reflects that, especially this: I believe in immenseness, space and a spirit I have found again, by another name, 
in another guise. 

When I arrived to the outback, I fell to my knees in awe of the huge vastness of it all, and the vastness in me that seemed to unfold without restraint in such a wide open space.

Thanks Sommer and Laura. I know what you mean. I find that immense spaces where there are still indigenous cultures that tells stories about the land - such spaces resonate with spirit, or rather, they are spirit. 

Im curious where this mesa is, living far from my longlost juniper-sage-rabbitbrush home, wondering if  you were there?

I took this photo in Taos - I think it was somewhere past the Gorge Bridge...

Dear Shebana,
Your poem reads like a prayer; or should I say your prayer is deeply poetic: it's rhythms and rhymes and aural textures move through the voice like a long wind through low brush, lush, living, longing; strong images rise from words and a world rises to mind; in the mind's eye light shines on sage, birds stay and go, and you, maddened, gladdened, glow, delighted; no sensing place is left untouched; through your senses memory re-recalls you to there, where you are then, when the moment opens you to the moment you are in that place firm, affirmed, all together affirming. beautiful. 
Thank you. William

Thank you for this poem that speaks to our innermost self.    Diane

I hope you don’t mind; but, this is a note for the managers of this page, those who screen responses. I posted a comment yesterday; it was intended as an appreciation of the poem, which I found inspiring. Consequently, my response was written in a somewhat poetic style. My intention was to show, as well as tell, the state of mind Shebana’s poem inspired. I wonder if you judged it inappropriate, and if so, why. I’m very sorry if I offended. Please do pass along a ‘thank you’ from a reader in North Carolina who deeply identifies with the spirit of this kind of work. Perhaps it’s far-fetched to ask; but If you do have the time or inclination to let me know why you decided against posting what I wrote, you can write to me at williamstott@me.com. I would deeply appreciate it. I am a long-time fan of Krista’s work and view On Being faithfully (pardon the double entendre). However, I am new at trying to participating more actively in internet-presentations. Sincerely, William 

Wow this piece speaks right down to the clay that formed me.  Thank you for sharing this

Reading all these responses - which are poetry, deeply-felt -- I thought of how this particular poem found me and then of inspiration in general and then I remembered a poem by Alice Meynell which begins:I come from nothing; but from where
Come the undying thoughts I bear
Down, through the long links of death and birth
From the past poets of the earth,
My immortality is there.--from A Song of Derivations by Alice Meynell

I believe in YOU!

apples