Reading The Desert’s Design

R.T. Castleberry

Chiming bells of a Spanish Baptist church
cover the jittery clatter of gate chain, tardy penitent.
Ocotillo canes are live fences along the sidewalks.
I step from yard to porch, settle to a chair,
survey highway’s scale to wind-gouged mesa.
Bursage and mesquite tangle the valley canyons.
Barefoot, weary,
unkind in my confusion,
I can’t stand my own house.
The current that is cause and place and treachery
staggers me.
Ridgeline photos lean the walls, cluttering my attention.
Wind jacket, rain jacket, unread mail
layer couch and dining chair.
Spreading a hiker’s bedroll,
tokens salvaged from a desert run
scatter from the blanket:
owl feathers, fossils of flower, bone and bead,
translucent shed of snakeskin.
Sifting them,
silence and the unresolved constrict my chest.
History is a narrative of sins in old diaries,
a succession of summer rooms.
I have a full day to work through.


R. T. Castleberry’s work has been published in Comstock Review, The Alembic, Green Mountains Review, Rockhurst Review, Caveat Lector, Poet Lore and many other magazines, both nationally and internationally. His chapbook, Arriving at the Riverside, was published by Finishing Line Press in January 2010. An e-book, Dialogue and Appetite, was published in April 2011 by Right Hand Pointing.