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Saturday, July 23, 2011


by David Chorlton

               When you live close to nature, you take what comes.
                              Tom Beatty, Miller Canyon, Arizona

It might be a Lucifer hummingbird
whose gorget shines magenta
against apples ripening
on trees in August’s orchard
that you see, or else

a family from Oaxaca
who made it this far and chose the wild
canyon after crossing over
and who stop
when you encounter them,
frightened as the ocelot

a dog treed here in spring.
If you look the other way
to let them pass
you’ll notice how the cliff wall
seems to hang
between the sky and the oaks

while at the saddle
between two peaks
aspens are absorbed by clouds
one day and by smoke
on another. When what comes

is fire, it is never in the forecast.
It just begins
and strips
a mountain to the bone.
When you live where the border
between good weather and bad

is harder to cross
than the one between countries,
it might be the black flood you hear
washing away the thrush’s call
and taking back
everything the golden days

delivered. What comes is yours
to keep; as much a part of you
as the shiver in the blade
is of the axe.

David Chorlton has lived in Arizona since 1978, when he moved from Vienna, Austria. While much of his poetry is about the Southwestern landscape, his newest publication, and first work of fiction, is The Taste of Fog from Rain Mountain Press, reflecting a darker side of Vienna.