A Desert Winter Suite – poetry by David Chorlton

A  Desert Winter Suite

It’s warm in the winter sun that touches
down on the dry
grass in the park, growing quietly
through whatever comes, whoever
walks or sits there while the mountain
watches with nothing else to fill
its time but being still and bearing
the weight of light that passes
over it. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday;
the week holds its breath
but it’s still a working day
for the sky. So much for it to do, and
the night to come, when
it hangs from a star: canvas
with a black silk lining.
A hawk sways back and forth
in a cradle of wind, his tail
above houses, while his eye
already sees the desert with its thirst.
A grey light showers
from the sky today, catches
in the needles on saguaro,
and scraps of it are carried away
in a Rock Wren’s beak. The air
is the color of rain, but
none falls. Cloud for cloud
the hours cross the mountain
in shades of dry, until the longest
night begins with Jupiter
and Saturn embedded
in the velvet sky.
A scene remembered floats
through starlight;
it’s midnight past and present
with the owl’s dark calls
woven into woodsmoke.
The city’s lights reflecting
from the far
side of South Mountain
are the late night hum from distant
traffic turning orange in the dark
and the air is dragon’s breath. Bees
are sleeping in a hollowed space
in a wall in the wash
where a sandy trail runs
between rocks and rocks
and javelina rumble down
the slopes, bristle-backed in moonlight,
into streets that lie
at rest. Coyotes make
their nightly rounds from park
to pond and cul-de-sac,
while above them, stars
are loose change in the sky.
The street’s a secret passage
here to there, and never ends;
it runs in its own time guided
by the streetlamps
and doesn’t stop to ask the way.
The owl knows where it leads,
brushes some dust from the dark
with a wing
and its two repeated notes
buff against the bone-light
from the moon.

David Chorlton lives in Phoenix, close to a large desert mountain city park from which various creatures visit after sundown! He has published several books and performed poetry on occasion with his recently deceased wife, a violinist who brought out extra dimensions in the work with her music. 


  1. Jean Shannon says:

    I used to live in Phoenix.  This vivid poem brought back many memories of my years there. Jeanne Shannon Albuquerque, New Mexico

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just wow – stars as ‘loose change in the sky’!


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