Destinations

I Gila Bend

The road to Gila Bend is lined
with fencing whose wire
has barbs as sharp
as the broken limbs on the mesquites
behind them, that reach
into the air for water.
It runs
parallel to the tracks
where freight trains lose count
of the miles of palo
verde yellow in the spring
when
plastic roses bloom
around a roadside cross
and garbage bags flap
in the wind.
It persists
to where a man is walking
his noonday shadow, and
the vulture over Main Street
balancing on light
tells you
you’re here: lost
on arrival.

II Quitobaquito

We’re sitting at the border
eating lunch
and listening to a radio
program from the BBC about
killing King and Robert Kennedy
and leaving high ideals behind

while Turkey vultures sway
between the USA and Mexico
The talk is all of ending
poverty and treating black
and white as equals.
The fence here isn’t much

more than iron posts
with a barrier three feet
off the ground. Fifty years

it’s been, and politics
has turned to a defence
of owning guns and sending back
the poor to the roots
of their problems. It has been

a dry winter for everyone;
the brittlebush struggles and a darkness
in each saguaro’s heart
is waiting to blossom.
We set off along the trail

to the hidden pond
where speeches collect
when they flow
from a desert spring.

III Sells

The road to Sells is stripped
to necessities: asphalt,
yellow lines and white
lines, a hawk
thirty feet above
and broken treaties
buried underneath.
Here are
dust and border agents
parked between saguaros
for whom time is money
and they’re paid
in lonely hours.
Here’s the
Pentecostal shock to ancient
systems, and power lines
connecting the present with
the past,
and here
the desert that replaced
a mining town built
on greed and a flash
of sunlight on
the only piece of silver
in the mountain.
There are no
turnoffs to confuse
the travellers’ intent
on reaching Sells, which is
only a season away
with a yellow chorus rising
from the land
and food
in the convenience store
packaged to last
until the gods come down
from the sacred peak
to reclaim what is theirs.

David Chorlton deals with modern life well enough, but there has always a quiet Luddite operating under his name. He likes listening to interesting radio music programs from England and Austria and keeping up with several online literary publications. His latest book is Poetry Mountain, with many local observations. Read other articles by David.