The two poems draw on a trip through the northeastern part of Arizona and to our well known Canyon de Chelly, the jpgs are of some watercolous that are “abstractions” with the red rock landscape in mind that match what happens in the poems. David Chorlton
Canyon de Chelly The rain turns around and begins to flow back into the sky. A low cloud grips a mesa with its talons and pulls it from the surface of the Earth revealing one more red rock canyon filled with souls. The walls are marked by clawing where they tried to climb out. History curls up at the edges and the open spaces tear apart as easy as ripping up a treaty. A dark heat settles over the land. There are no ladders any more to reach houses built into the walls, but those between the houses and the sky remain in place for access to join a hawk in flight. Easy now to navigate the cliffs, circle columns rising from the stony ground, and balance on the heat. To fly and not be followed, settle high where nobody can reach and be a spirit leaving when the body can’t hold on. Navajo Landscapes The road remembered glides with no effort across flat country that ends in a brushstroke dragged along a sky soaked in water where the weight of it rests while the edges bloom into the land’s imagination. Rocks the ground can no longer contain stand up as landmarks for anyone who needs to know where they are going, but which direction hardly matters. The landscape’s inner life reveals a kind of loneliness. It’s easy to feel lost where the Earth arcs and the sun is balanced on its highest point like the destination at journey’s end, when the way there is by holding to the underside of a cloud as it follows the broken yellow line to infinity.
David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, and often reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. His newest collection of poems is Unmapped Worlds from FutureCycle, and The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavan