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David Chorlton: Two Poems
Turner at the Old Parsonage | San Pedro

Turner at the Old Parsonage

A journey starts in Heidelberg.
Six inches wide, the river
is a sleight of hand
turning paper into water

and with one romantic sweep
it enters blue
between two hills
where night begins. The picture
hangs in a house without furniture

with dust motes gilded
by the sunlight. A boy
comes here to travel

through the Rheinland,
to pre-industrial time.
Day after day

he climbs the hill
to the gate
that rings as it closes.
He is always alone

except for the sleeping custodian.
A white tower stands
on the far shore

and people dressed for summer
lean against the foreground wall
while reflections carry
the weight of barges.
Once home to the parsons

who preached in Didsbury church
the house's only sound
is a floorboard creaking underfoot.
Summer and winter,
the boy keeps coming

until he believes that rock
is orange and dissolves
into clouds. He does not notice
the painting expand

but finds himself inside it
among the brightly dressed walkers

San Pedro

        —(for Karen Taylor and Gary Fry)

A snake curls into the shade
beneath a tree where kingbirds perch
backlit by mountains
that are transparent in the morning
when the earth rolls out
from its sleep
and a breath

passes through rock.
The river threads its jewelled path
through the lacework of light
among the cottonwoods
where an owl becomes a silent shadow
and a wren
knits a home close to water.
Beads of red

inhabit the leaves, yellow flashes
from branch to branch, and the mottled
underbelly of a hawk
shines from its watching place.
As heat takes hold

of the stones,
lifting them from the ground,
the hours turn a deeper shade
until the canyons
dry and crackle
at the time the javelinas run
to drink and a solitary lion

stalks the darkness. When colours
have drained from the land
you can go outside again
and count the beating hearts
inside their breasts of fur or feathers
or the slow pulse
in a coat of scales. The land

you cannot see
turns in its sleep
as you ride with it
to the first nervous flutter at dawn.

Poet's Biography:
David Chorlton was born in Spittal-an-der-Drau, Austria, and grew up in Manchester, England. He moved to Vienna in 1971. In 1978, he moved to Phoenix together with Roberta, his Arizona-born wife. Since then, his poems have appeared piecemeal in a long list of literary magazines and collections of poetry including Forget the Country You Came From from Singular Speech Press, and Outposts from Taxus Press in Exeter, England. His translations of prose by Austrian writer Hans Raimund appeared in 1997 from Event Horizon Press as Viennese Ventriloquies. The author of seven books of poetry, his most recent collection is Assimilation, which won the first Main Street Rag poetry journal chapbook competition. His paintings, mostly watercolour, have been exhibited in Austria and the United States.

© 1999 - 2003, by the poets featured herein.