Drawing on her years of living in Mexico and researching for a book on New Mexico, Julia Older taps into the heartline of Mayan and Anasazi descendants. The city in the sky that she writes of is known as Acoma, the oldest mesa village of the Pueblo people in the Southwest. In this chapbook, Older sets in motion a series of powerful poems evocative of these great and ancient people. She takes as her clue to their greatness a central Navajo guideline of life--"Beauty all around me, with it I wander."
She writes of "First Rites" and how:
Carrying gifts of piki and lightning stones
the Anasazi climb the sacred spruce
to the City in the Sky and smile
on me from the Enchanted Mesa.
In her Afterword, Older tells of her seven-mile hike ("a pilgrimage") into a broad red rock canyon to Keet Seel where a 40-foot pole ladder leads to an isolated millennia-old dwelling beneath a massive sandstone cliff sweeping skyward. She writes in the Afterword how at Hubble Trading Post in Ganado, Arizona, she shared the silence of a Navajo woman "sitting at her four-cornered loom with wooden cross-poles, weaving tight lines of spun yarn. Now I sit at my four-cornered desk weaving words into poems."
From here she brings back the "yarn" for her poems "Wide Ruins," "Lakota Ghost Dance," "Buffalo" and the others in this haunting collection. City in the Sky is part of the four-volume Walking to Windward Series of poetry.