This is what thirst looks like: some rocks
the Earth once forced
out of itself to break a crumbling skyline
and to bear millennia of weather; flashes
of sunlight on stone shards
lying between creosote and smoke trees;
a century plant’s stalk
drawn with a fine point
onto air; afternoons hemmed to the ridges
receding from blue to blue
to nowhere.
                  Once it takes hold, it doesn’t
let go, and it takes the long road
through open space beneath a sky so wide
it runs off the edge of the world. It taps
on a metal container, rattles a cattle tank,
and toys with shadows cast by the teasing
clouds. It bores into each fence post
marking who owns what and where
possession ends it tastes just like
barbed wire.
                  It’s that speck
along a path through grasses scorched pale,
walking on two legs or four, the slow drip
of light into a canyon, a thorn
you can’t spit out.

David Chorlton was born in Spittal an der Drau, Austria, grew up in Manchester, England, and lived for several years in Vienna before moving to Phoenix in 1978. His poems have appeared in many small press magazines, and chapbooks including The Lost River from Rain Mountain Press, and two Slipstream chapbook competition winners; also full-length books, including A Normal Day Amazes Us from Kings Estate Press and Waiting for the Quetzal from March Street Press. His Selected Poems appeared in 2014 from FutureCycle Press.

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