A Wedding Among Nomads - David Chorlton

Sand rains over the chosen two.
The sky is their burnt canopy.
They swear allegiance to the shifting ground

as they climb the pedestal
to be joined in drought and thrown to chance.
A curtain for the night is drawn around them

while guests light fires, gamble,
recite narratives of war
and lie down with visions

welling in their milky eyes.
Wedding gifts are stacked
into a pyramid, with fruit

and amulets enough for a lifetime.
The yellow storm subsides
and dream smoke

curls above the camp
where fortune tellers are debating
whether a day or fifty years

await the man and wife.
They shake their heads and scatter ashes
around the marriage bed. Nothing

is certain, they say. And the tribes
go separate ways, to meet again
perhaps in peace or with weapons drawn
and nothing left to bargain with.

David Chorlton came to Phoenix from Europe in 1978 with his wife Roberta, an Arizona native. He quickly became comfortable with the climate while adjusting to the New World took longer. Writing and reading poetry have helped in that respect, as has exposure to the American small presses. He still lives with his European past in mind of art galleries and very old music, and desert present as Arizona’s landscape and wildlife have become increasingly important to him both as a source of pleasure and a measure of how precarious the natural world is. Thirty years ago he regarded the idea of “nature poetry” as one tainted with sentimentality but today it appears ever more necessary as an element of resistance to the conformity that Edward Abbey confronted so well in his writings on the Southwest.