Nobody’s Land

Beneath a red-tailed sky
buttes and ridges comprise
the torn edge of the Earth
in a dry season
with spots of stubborn green
clinging to the slopes.
Canyons pull the shadows
of clouds inside
and bright rock slides up from them
when the sun comes back. A small
commotion turns
into a flock of sparrows
where dirt road shades into
stones and creosote,
and a lizard on a flat rock
eases himself up
by the forelegs before he’s gone
behind a blinking eyelid.
Here’s the perfect backdrop
for a stagecoach run
with outlaw presence
out of sight
and waiting; for the fight
in defence of the Apache homeland;
for the quick draw
evaluation of where
good and evil part ways
and one disappears in a curl
of gunsmoke. Some days
all that moves
is the coyote, loose
as gravel, and alert
to every sound as he melts
back into the foothills.
It’s quiet now,
with landscape stripped
to essentials: some peaks
by which the lost
might find direction; caves
for bats to sleep in; arroyos
and still air in which
a taut string of heat vibrates
in the cicada buzz
of summer.

By David Chorlton
dry desert mountains

David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications on- and off-line, and reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. His most recent book, A Field Guide to Fire, was his contribution to the Fires of Change exhibition shown in Flagstaff and Tucson in Arizona. Click HERE to visit his web site.

Photo by the author

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