The Altar – a poem by David Chorlton

The Altar


The road to the Sun Stone runs
over hills that shine with rain
and past forest so dense time cannot pass through it.
A bus leaves every day
with its motor complaining and music
playing on the radio, all sweeping romance
and glitter turned to sound.
It grinds its way back from now to
an age preserved in lava
where an orchid grows
in each chest cavity emptied
of its heart.
                  The ride continues along
steamy heights and muddy
valleys, more dream than journey
as jaguars reclaim their history. When the wheels
fall away all
that remains is to walk and walk beyond
familiarity. Long avenues open
and beside them the foundations
of a culture press
through the moss, yearning
to return. And it does. With paths
winding deep into anyone’s mind
who has made it this far
and with a secret buried inside every mound.
It’s beautiful here,
                              but a sting
is hidden under every leaf. An alligator sleeps
a sleep carved into rock, while steps lead
into the clouds
where the sun waits on an altar
for the flint knife to release
its light.


David Chorlton is a longtime resident of Phoenix, who has grown into the desert climate and likes it. Visits to Costa Rica and the rainforest made a significant and vastly contrasting impression on him compared to his usual dry surroundings.

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