From this angle, a day’s last rays make embers of cattails
bent in supplication to an unrepentant wind trying to force
the Colorado into retrograde. A fleet of satellites sail​

across a dimming sky eager to unzip the last sheets of shine
and stretch the crepe-paper clouds until each atom crumbles
then falls into its place among these desert sands. I am fine

with the speed at which the light dissolves after it affirmed
all the life one can handle in a day, begged of me this single
question: Will our cities or forests be the first things burned

in another summer of our discontent? Thanks be to currents
that know how fast to wash old things away, though birds
carve bee lines in the twilight masonry as an act of defiance.

A swimmer cuts a single stitch in burnished water, contemplates
their species and motivation here an empire east of Capistrano,
a conspiracy west of Baltimore. On shifting sands he hesitates

here at the edge of the sickening conquest and considers the idea
there are vultures circling in advance of a reaping. There are so
many fences to pull down and bones to repatriate yet no panacea

for the wounds made manifest by American sins. The horizon
burnished in umber and violet wars with a vanishing sky flush
with the beacons of passing planes, the nervous conversation

between the frogs, the waterfowl, and ancient high-tension lines.
It wraps like an eddy around the bather who holds his tongue
with considerable valor as the engine of a passing angler whines. 

Selected byRaymond Hufffman
Image credit:Ramiro Pianarosa

D. E. Kern is an author and educator from Bethlehem, Pa. He worked in newspapers for fifteen years before shifting to Creative Writing in graduate school. His writing has appeared in Appalachian Review, Big Muddy, CRATE, The Examined Life, Mission at Tenth, Rio Grande Review and The Owen Wister Review among others. He teaches English at Arizona Western College where he also directs the Honors Program. When he is not teaching or writing, he enjoys fishing and traveling with his lovely wife, Neesha.