#117 Chaco Canyon by Susan Elbe

What lives here now crisscrosses morning,
the sun, long-legged,
yellow-eyed coyote, slung low
and nosing through rooms of extinction.

Dust drifting in a shiv of light remembers
what it was to be
water hissing deep in alcoves,
the snake in shale.

Telescoping doorways diminish return.

On a burning wall, the earless lizard
feels its own blood sing.
I rest myself against the secrets
mortared into stone and wait for them to tell me.

But only locusts click in creosote and wind
shuttles through wheat grass.
The rest, a silence
more desertion than pure absence.

I cannot call the lost ones back.

Their names on my tongue,
strange diphthongs,
dark whisks of water on the sky.

Susan Elbe is the author of Eden in the Rearview Mirror and two chapbooks, Light Made from Nothing and Where Good Swimmers Drown. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin but has traveled annually to New Mexico for over 30 years. You can learn more about her at http://www.susanelbe.com.

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