The mountains push back the sun’s last rays,
absorbing evening light into green-grey pinyon juniper.
From main street rises the guitar and tenor
of a traveling preacher who sings of
redemption, desperation, being lost, being
found. I know these tunes from other
places where people also congregate
on a July night to attest to their faith or
merely to wait for another day to pass
as I do in a folding chair on the porch of
my stopgap house, my hair, damp
from a shower, drying quickly in desert air.
The mountains are stacked—
construction paper in a collage of torn pieces.
Nearer, sphinx moths side-slip over zinnia flowers.
I hear the swish of a raven’s wings. I will
recuse myself from this loneliest highway, this watershed
that cannot run to the sea, from the hard faces
of crumbling rock and the hard faces of fractured
men who speak with one voice.
Alexa Mergen lives on a boat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. She grew up in Washington, D.C. and has also lived in cities and small towns in California, Michigan, Nevada and West Virginia. Her poems have been published in District Lines, Inlandia, Turtle Island Quarterly, Virginia Quarterly Review, and other journals. Alexa’s chapbooks are Winter Garden, Three Weeks Before Summer, and We Have Trees.
Sphinx Moth Caterpillar illustration by C.B. Auder (digital collage).