The days grow shorter

                                    and the desert nights cooler

                  now September fades away

The soft hiss of sand over sand eases

                                    the setting sun out of the bloodlit sky

                  and shadows creep across the ground like

                                    spreading pools of careless ink

                                                      in the east

The full moon already rides the cloudless sky

                                    soon to be a silver rain upon

                                                      the nighttime

                  a rattlesnake far away lifts its head in greeting


Each night before going to sleep as a boy

                                    I used to come here--to my

                  own part of the desert--where I knew

                                    every scent with the rattlesnake

                                                      and the patterns as well as the owl

                  drifting noiselessly above

And each night at midnight while I waited breathless

                                    he would canter in

                                                                        my wild pony

                                                      suspicious of the wind and stars

                                    he'd regard me nervously from ten paces away

The same scene again and again

                  a banded lizard scuttling from cactus

                                    to cactus

                  the pony's whiffling questing nostrils

                   and my own outstretched hand

                  with the sweetest of red apples

                                    dripping juice from its virgin white interior--

                   succulent flesh in my mouth

Each night we'd trade our treasures

                  for him the bitten apple

                                                      for me the wild musk of desert horses

                                                       like peyote on the wind

                  and in five minutes he would be

  galloping for distant rock mesas

                  and I would be asleep


                                                                          who mourns for Odysseus knows--

                                                      knows that Circe was but a child

                                                                        compared to his victorious and omni-

                                                      potent enemy time

                                                                          not to Ithaca did he return as

                                                      himself--but as another

                                                                        and it was other to him


                                                                        art even thou Telemachus?


Arizona dawn has no joy for the weary

                                    and the night has brought

                  with it only the scent of distant fire flowers

                                    and I know it's time to be on the road again

                                      to San Francisco in my white Oldsmobile

                                                      to the ocean

                                                                        and home


                                                                                                            Christopher J. Cramer

                                                                                                            March 3, 1984