By the bead of water flowering on a moth’s wing,
by the layers of flood and drought
printed on a rock wall,
by the call and response of mourning doves
and by the blossoms nesting
among a barrel cactus’ thorns,

a fugitive can tell
he has run too far, too deep
into the canyon, too deep
in time. He is beguiled

by the sage and the paintbrush
and by the massive formation approaching him
in his delirium.
Thirst drips down his throat.
He scratches salt from his hair.
His skin tightens.
He is disappearing

into his own footsteps,
leaving only his scent
in the golden light
and the sunburn

that glazes his brow
when he kneels
to make a final confession.




David Chorlton
Illustration Nick Victor

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