It’s a heat that casts no shadow
weighing down the land
that swallows roads
who dare to cross. It’s August
in the clouds and the earth
sweats a living
for those who occupy it, blue corn
to yellow corn, dawn until
dusk and the owl
who wakes in a canyon cottonwood
and lifts a fallen boulder
with his claw.

A dove’s call carries forever
close to the ground
while a universe of clouds
forms, dissolves, and burns into
the fans of light the sun
projects before
night takes all the land
to bed in silence.
Darkness gnaws
at the red walls and rock thumbs
streaked with wind
and invasion, until morning
parts the cliffs
and hums into the world
along the wires
that sag from pole to pole beside
the asphalt road
arrowing off
the edge of the world.

A mesa eases along
the far horizon, restless
in its search for rain. It follows
the moon when it turns red and howls
to all creation the way
it learned from centuries of wolves.

David Chorlton lives in Phoenix and enjoys a view of the desert mountain that occupies its space surrounded by the city. He has had an unusual year in which watching the local wildlife has been a help in his recovery. Read other articles by David.