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Tuesday, August 17, 2010


by David Chorlton

As he walks, a man in the forest
looks to the ground
although the black trunks are still tall
and recall their silver days
of pointing to the sky.

A pelican has opened its oily beak
and lifted itself up
from the sand, turning
toward the deceptive reflections
on the surface of the sea.

One cross holds firmly
to the small dome on the blue tower
while the other has begun to lilt
as the wood gives way beneath it
and trees in the churchyard lean
with a warning to run
if there is anywhere to run toward.

Fishes wash ashore like broken
rainbows. A gull on its back
flaps in the oil
and cannot understand
why water is heavy when
the sky is so bright.

Preserved fruit in the cellar
survived the blaze. It’s being raised now
from the ash. Some memories
are kept in air-tight jars.

The turtle on the beach has exhausted
its strength and stopped
dead in its slow tracks
like a breath
that turned black.

Some men in a small town sit
on a stone bench and wait
for the smoke to pass when that is all
there is to do except to light
another cigarette.

The dragonfly holds its long blue torso
straight and steady
as it tries to clean its wings
on marsh grass
where drops of water hang.

With a metal relic in her hand
and icons in her lap,
an old woman from the wooden age
watches her village being taken
in smoke while she speaks back
to a God who has spoken first.

A crumpled gannet lies with its head
too heavy for its neck
and its wings
spread like a hand of cards
a gambler threw down
when he lost.

David Chorlton has lived in Arizona for more than thirty years and loves the landscape, but laments that the state legislature has more thorns than the cactus.