The shortest distance between breaths
blinks on and off at the end of the pier.
At first you were shadow, then accordion
music played in one key, or a banjo.
Sometimes I want to be surrounded
by water, silence bobbing in my wake.
I lose track of myself
when the night lasts too long.
To reckon a single step,
each footfall is what it is,
over as soon as set.
Right hand before your left,
legs in motion, no penalty, keep moving.
Into the end-run of age
where fancy-dancing is discouraged,
not like when I rode
my brand new red Schwinn,
bold and callow, no hands,
spinning down Telephone Road
so long ago the sky
must have been bluer then.
I was light, simple, and
had no idea of the measure
being taken away as quickly
as it was being given.
I eat my heart out three times a day,
Wallenda balanced, giddy with rosin,
poised to tangle, to tango. I want to dance
nose to nose with you, before I die
chin to chin with your bawdy double,
in the wind, strung out and forgetful.
There is a world to consider, my straw companion
who waits for the opportunity to cut loose.
Sabino Canyon, Arizona
Songs as quiet as ancient sighs
lie down deep, tie a thought to rock,
find the cracks fatigue has made,
open rifts where long dead roots
have choked life left from other times
Color comes unexpected, cached in
red around a bend, beneath a gray cholla
where one trail ends, another turns
and starts again, this sacred ground
has voice, takes the melody where it will.
Here, water leaves a shape, winds wail,
then whisper to a passing javelina,
as scree binds cliff to canyon floor
a melancholy traveler rests on green serape
to listen, still beneath the hard blue sky.
Shann Palmer lives in Virginia, serves as Poetry in the Schools State Rep, hosts readings, workshops, and maintains a web-based events calendar. Her CDs and hand-made chapbooks are available from her website FlashPaperPoetry.