Friday, January 30, 2015

Chiricahua December

by David Chorlton

Sparrows flash
between the junipers
while towhees rummage
in grass turned dry
and pale through which
a trail leads
up the slope. Snow
clings to the crevices
on canyon walls
above the jays
and sapsuckers busy
tapping and calling,
oak into oak; red cap;
blue wing; low sun
shining cool
through the evergreens.


A chill stands up
straight and runs
from an agave's root
through the stalk
to the gray light
carried on the morning
wind across level
ground that flows
into the foothills
to where a shrike
looks out from
a shiver
at the tip of a mesquite.


Winter's crooked bones
rise from the creek banks,
white against the oaks
and junipers filling
slowly with night. It begins
with the stream turning
water to sound
and moves up the mountain
until the peak fades,
the juncos have gone
from the leaves in the yard,
and the forest closes around
the white patch
on a flicker's back.


A woodpecker's tap
carries between the trees
with their arms full
of overnight snow
while conversation soaks
into the clouds
pressing low and cold
onto the road
and the ice
lining each stalk of grass.