Lost in Ahwatukee

Where the traffic turns off Elliot
into the supermarket forecourt
a woman holds a handwritten appeal
on ragged cardboard
and speaks to the rising temperature
until late afternoon
when she crosses over
the boiling point of patience.

Last night thunder beat
against the dark side of the clouds
while a windstorm plucked a tree
from where the asphalt ends
and left it lying breathless on the ground.
The man who breaks the silence sounds
as though he swallowed lightning
and now he spits it out. He’s ragged
but he’s upright; he’s making
accusations of anyone he sees; he’s
a child of his times and there’s no one
to help, feed, or arrest him
as he moves across the parking lot
just dancing with the light

A woman missing, and the moon
howls. Her life peeled
away from her. A wrong turn. A mountain
trail. While nobody was watching
she flew up and over the ridge
to the city’s dark side. Only the owl
can know where she is, the winged
shadow who spends the night searching
for souls. And it looks
unlikely that she’ll be back for the first
Wednesday of the month to claim
her ten per cent saving at the Safeway store.

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.