The highway embedded itself in the desert.
It oozed blackness onto the gravel shoulder.
It bent summer’s heat into mysterious lakes.

The desert did not want the highway.
It missed the ruts of drawn wagons,
the conversations carted by mules and oxen.

Eighteen-wheelers don’t talk much
to the cholla, the saguaro, the buffalo grass,
let alone the salt earth and spare arroyos.

The desert song birds do not sing
for the Department of Transportation foreman,
for the locals hired to put a new layer of asphalt down.

The turkey vultures circle over the thin black line.
They recognize Death’s thin black scrawl
upon the desert parchment.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

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