The Weather at Home

Sun/rain outside home in Arizona (Photo: David Chorlton)

The mountain wriggles free
of shadow from a cloud
after rain. Alyssa keeps calling about the warranty
but won’t say what it’s for. The mysteries
weigh more today than the day before:
did the cathedral builders believe
in a patient God? why does an owl call
when watching for prey?
is it possible to fly
to the twelfth century? The plane
departs at noon. Pilgrims are gathering
to journey on the Milky Way.
When the computer
swallows a file, does the file
have a soul to grant
eternal life? The mail arrives
with hands reaching out from every envelope
for money, but the problems
that sent them are too big
to be solved. This is a watercolor
kind of day. A wet brush sweeps
across the deckle-edged sky: the evening birds
shake water from their wings

A bowling ball of thunder rolls
down the street at 5 am
and rain, on little feet, runs along
behind it. Flashes fill the window
like electric milk
splashing on the glass. This is the Earth
photographing itself: dawn,
the Mourning doves all
in a row, perched
on a streak of lightning.

Police cars cruise the quiet streets on Sunday
leaving us to wonder
what we’ve done. A kestrel owns
the sky today, tracing
easy arcs against the storm’s last clouds.

A slow breeze skates
across water in an upturned lid; it can’t tell
what was left in place
from what just fell by circumstance,
the same way Sunday
doesn’t know whether it’s for football
or for prayer. The choice lies
between an inner life and becoming one
of the exuberant crowd. It’s the fourth
quarter, a two point difference,
winter’s sparrows just arrived,
and the referee’s decision on a foul
is announced with a Last Judgment kind
of severity. Four minutes left
for a touchdown, or
eternity calling. There’s the ring now,
and it’s always hard to tell
a live voice from
a recording.

David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, and often reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. A recent collection of poems is Bird on a Wire from Presa Press, and The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant. A new book, Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird, is out from Hoot ‘n Waddle, based in Phoenix. Read other articles by David.