The Locksmith

It starts with a trembling hand, starts
without anyone knowing
the consequences of interfering
with land and it doesn’t take long
before the words trip over each other
in the simple course of talking. The neighbors
sense Beth’s future but are helpless
to get in its way. Sometimes the mind
won’t connect and she can’t find her keys.
It’s an incremental process
and before long the elk
have chewed riverbanks bare,
the doors are locked
and she wanders looking for a way
back into her life. Everyone around her
knows she’ll try to drive somewhere,
everyone knows the natural world is subject
to boardroom decisions and legal maneuvers
and when she falls the scar on her cheek
resembles the clear cut on a mountainside.
She’s no longer sure where she lives
until the locksmith arrives.
He picked up the call for help, he’s seen
all this before. He fashions
the key that opens all doors, lets
a lost person back inside
her routine and releases the wolves
to repair the broken world.
When wolves control elk and coyotes
the rabbits and beavers return, the water table rises,
aspen, willow and cottonwoods
fill with songbirds and even the ravens
are shadows laughing in the air. And back
inside her house
she doesn’t know how safe she is.

David Chorlton has lived in Phoenix since 1978. He grew up in England with watching soccer as a major part of life although he has managed to move on to other interests since then, including reading and writing poetry. Read other articles by David.