a famous poet ... was asked to explain one of his poems
Well if I'd asked for a polaroid that explained your picture :-)
For me, it is a bit of muted beauty in a slightly saddening environment.
Is the slightly saddening environment
conveyed by the image standing on its own or by what you had seen that isn't in frame or by the baggage the words "Owens Valley" carry for anyone passingly familiar with the California water wars?
For me, it's a wordless process and results more from an emotional response to a scene rather than an intellectual evaluation of details.
Due to the wonders of technology, always working with a tethered large-screen laptop might allow a fast enough iteration between response to a scene and response to the image.