Charles Cantrell

Desert Snow
for Donald Revell

It’s almost Christmas. I stand beside a saguaro.
I don’t know if God had anything to do
with this cactus, but the backward-curving
branches, the white flowers and edible
red fruit remind me of an oasis.

First stars tonight, and they give me faith,
not in their fire but in their light,
which once lit up a cacomistle.
Desert squirrel, I thought, but they don’t swish
a black-banded tail.

Last night I watched a woman
at a cantina dance the cachucha, alone,
but a cacophony of vultures interrupts
that image. Something must be dead
in the arroyo, but as I bite into this fruit,

I don’t care about anything dead.
Strings of lights, even on adobe shacks
near the desert, are the only decorations.
I have little faith on snow falling on the desert,
but some would love a white Christmas.

Lilac Shadow

I don’t think you know that I’m hiding
behind the shadow of the lilac bush
brushing the garage. I bet you don’t care.
I do silly things for the fun of it, like packing
peanut butter in the finger holes
of your bowling ball before we go bowling.

Moonlight almost gives me away
as you hose the garden. What would you do
if I turned the water off and hid again?
We’re both lilac blossoms drifting in the perfume
of love. I’m not sure what that means,
but I like the sound of it.

I need an intervention. All this silly hiding
is getting me nowhere. Maybe inviting you
to a game of hide-and-seek would have worked.
Mosquitoes are tasting my blood.
What if I just shouted, “I’m over here?”
That might scare you, but would you care?

I wonder which animals feel love.
Mosquitoes don’t. I know I ask a lot of
questions. I’m picturing a fusion
of moonlight, shadows, and what hiding
behind the lilacs feels like.

Charles Cantrell has poems in recent issues of Mudfish, Confrontation, UCity Review, Free State Review, District Lit, Exit 7, Citron Review, and Seven Circle Press. A full-length manuscript, Wild Wreckage, was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Brittingham and Pollak Awards from the University of Wisconsin Press. He’s been twice nominated for Pushcart Prize in poetry.

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