Clouds are crashing
against the jagged mountain skyline.
Ice on the wind rattles the blackjack pine
and the forest sings with a susurrant waving of boughs.
Puffed white against cobalt blue
cumulonimbus underbellies stretch darkly
with the promise of snow.
The mountain receives them, impaling and holding them
until the vellum of mist rips
spilling the gift of moisture onto the cold dry rocks.
A mile below in the valley
rain is tapping on fogged windows.
The gently pinging litany of the drizzle
is the prayer of hope for Spring flowers.
It is this cycle that engorges each wash
with rock crushing water
cascading into shallow streams
swelling finally into the green river
that once ran to the Sea of Cortez.
But the sea no longer tastes the snowmelt.
Red canyons are drowned behind concrete dams.
Now the moisture is scattered helplessly into the air
above the thirsty creosote and sajuaro plain
by fountains, stale artificial lakes,
and golf course greens.
Still, the clouds return from the Pacific
and the cycle begins anew each season
despite this broken spoke in the wheel.
And a river that searches for the Sea of Cortez
rushes to a pointless death in Phoenix, Arizona,
never to rise from the ashes again.
Bill Graffius, Oregon, USA