Night in Flagstaff

“Night in Flagstaff”


We spun in glowing from the moon-bent whir of a missed exit,

our mesa-dusty hands shaking from tumbleweed storms

and the dull hunger of the long road.


Even in darkness, the pines were friendly priests—

spare men, heaven-stretching, bony and wifeless.

Layers of them lined the mountain ridges,

a green mass breathing blue-smoke shivers in prayer,

whispering admiration of star-bangles set out

against the falling clavicle of horizon, and then—

the flickering blue flames of its slow inhale,

until the tallest pine pierced it at last in the morning,

soft hail unburdening the sun of its brightness,

releasing the stretched spines of the hungry pines,

meeting the earth at its highest and lowest.


The earth held still meeting the sky.

But if it could have moved,

it would have gotten bigger,

vibrating up into and around the hail.


The pine men were hungry still

and the ground beginning to freeze

when we drove away.