The Brilliant Blush of Ancient Cottonwoods
by Jeffrey C. Alfier

With primal intent, a dozen horses
face each point of the compass
like lookouts posted against
the hunger of pumas. Scents
from their bodies rise so tidal
they soak the twilight hours
that catch you unaware.

At night, you listen for serpents
in arid slide through the held-breath
silence of windless underbrush.
A palomino’s pale frame dances
under the night-washed
yellow of palo verde blossoms.
She crosses to a cutbank, descends
the soft walls into Pantano Wash.

Building speed into a full run,
distance shades her flight
against the embankment
of the vanished river,
her hooves sparking stone
as if to thrust light into earth.

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