Black Witch in a Storm

The porch of the early 20th century house in Paradise in the Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona, where the poet enjoyed happy stays in all seasons

The moth
that flew out from the forest
with black wings open like hands
and slapped against the door screen
was a messenger
for rain.
It had escaped
a book of legends, entered present time
after centuries of mystery
and peeled itself away
from the secrets in the trees. Monsoon;
red earth flowing; lightning
with fire at its tip. And a small face
to be allowed inside. Thunder
pried its wings apart. A flash
stripped every living thing
to bone and fear, but upon its expiration
the deer came quietly
back and the jays fluffed out
their feathers
to shake the water
off. And quickly
as the downpour had announced
itself the moth pulled free, whispered
to the steaming grass
and became sunlight.

David Chorlton lived in Vienna for most of the 1970s before moving to Phoenix. It was an exchange of wind and rain for the desert heat and a cultural shift. He has a non-fiction book published this year that tells the story of a 1961 murder near Vienna, for which one of his cousins was wrongly convicted. That is "The Long White Glove," from New Meridian Arts. Read other articles by David.