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Friday, December 22, 2006


by David Chorlton

Beside a slender river
that mumbles to the stones
we walk in quiet shoes
with winter thoughts
and eyes for the silky light
falling on the cottonwoods
still holding to a few
last russet leaves.

One falls for the Chilean general
and a flurry scatters
for those who still support
him. It was right, they say,
to do the things he did
and not apologise. A tree shakes

for the war that continues
without explanation
and we follow a dusty path
that tells us how long it has been
since rain or diplomacy.
Among the bare-limbed textures

of mesquite we are at peace
for a while. Nobody awaits
execution, nobody is tortured
until they cough up a reason
for it to stop, and nobody
stands in our way
prepared to strip us to our souls
before we continue
the journey. Along an uphill trail

we become ambassadors
from the country of grass
to that of rock and air. Back
in the shadows we report
to the water that clouds
are dispersing and the year

is drawing to a close
with unsettled accounts
and unburied dictators.
But as long as it flows
we will come here
to be with the trees
each one of which stands
as if nailed
to its place in the universe.

David Chorlton lives in central Phoenix where he keeps watch for hawks and other urban wildlife. He has published poems in magazines including Slipstream, Main Street Rag, Poem, Skidrow Penthouse and Parting Gifts, and has several books and chapbooks the most recent of which is Waiting for the Quetzal from March Street Press.