The Hills Just West of Yuma
On one of our first dates
Driving in the desert
Toward the sunset, haranguing
Above the blare of some
Horrid classic rock station
One of us dared the other
To keep on driving, west
Through Gila Bend, Yuma
Past Brawley & El Centro, to the coast.
& I drove west, each of us
Waiting for the other to crack
To laugh at the joke & finally
Turn back. Hell, I don't think
I was even wearing shoes but I had
20 bucks in the pocket
Of those ratty jeans, enough for a day's worth
Of beer & gas & off we went
Flying over the Colorado River
Glorying in the chalk-marked sunset
Crossing a line from which we've never
Turned back, somewhere in the hills
Just west of Yuma.
The park, after sunrise in November
Recalls images of Verdun
After battle, the cold mist
Haunting a knoll, curling
Around the moss-hid trunks of burled
Oak. We carve our beliefs out of these
Territories with whatever tools
We can cadge, the sound of breath
& morning, a suggestion of brittle leaves.
Traffic souffles the listless day
Breathless off-course gulls raft & weave
Tepid thermals on this stunningly tense
Tenth of April - yes, it is payday.
We watch as cops frisk dreamy punks
Hanging around the schoolyard like leaves
Blown up against a chain link fence.
We hold our breath as gamy drunks
Stilt by, lost birds in the city's marsh
Land looking to spear easy prey
Near shore. Why waddle so; why
Heave so heavy the foregone day
When you could stay home, lay in harsh
Beds, disregard the whitewashed sky.
- James A. Hawley-Meigs