He appeared on the paved path
on the old railway trail
near foothills, long slope
of the rocky wash.
Near crevices where winds form,
blast down the valley, leaves spinning,
stunned trees, even the dry river
stones stupefied by its force.
He was stock-still, the wind twisting
around his tail, and glancing my way,
ears alert. Ancient chaparral ancestors
stirring in his pale eyes, yelps
and howls from a thousand open
plains already sounding in unknown
and guarded inner places.
No one else was around but the lizard
near my feet, anticipating possibilities.
Nearby brush, rustlings, stirrings.
Then he was gone, as if by magic,
disappearing, no sound in the thickets
by the path, collecting heat as it bore down.
The winds stirred again,
a couple of blasts, no birds
anywhere that I could see, no brush
rabbits, just the dead bee I then came across,
and the dog collar, tan with gold flecks,
half-buried in the dirt.
Now I hear everything from all directions:
heavy bison steps, antelope grunts,
bobcats hissing, wind tearing through hedges.
There’s another lizard, minding his way
as we both acknowledge that today
something nearby will be devoured.
PHOTO OF MY AUNT
She was not posed, but staring off
from the gazebo at a party, her hand
almost to her head as if shielding
her eyes from the sun. Straining
to see something, she looked
curious, as if I could tell by her gaze,
as if she knew what it all meant,
as if she saw what was about to happen,
as if she knew it was there, the ultimate
end of all things that we found familiar,
the end of wondering. On the ground
behind her, at the edge of the gazebo,
her purse, silver clasp glinting in the sun.
WHAT I FOUND ON THE BEACH
Gray pebbles, ceramic shards,
pieces of plastic, rope, shell
trifles, abandoned claw tips.
Then, buried in seaweed,
it shone through, purple
with streaks of red,
shining glass, orbicular,
no cracks or chips. Wet,
cold, yet still exuberant.
It seemed to ignore being found,
and went on as it had been, silent,
on my dresser, waiting for the sun.
WINDS, STONE, ICE
Hard to get up, open to assaults
of bright winds, glossy fields
in the distance, flickering
and shimmering, blinding
and flashing with energy.
On the other hand, stone walkways
are dignified, but stable to the point
of fatigue. The gray and black flecks
run all through, repel everything,
explain nothing. They fossilize in the cold.
Glaciers on the horizon, gleaming
like answers to questions, like
ancient wisdom, like stories
that put one to sleep after wincing
and blinking and shivering all day.
Carla McGill earned her doctorate in English from the University of California, Riverside. Her work has been published in A Clean Well-Lighted Place, The Atlanta Review, Shark Reef, Crack the Spine, Westview, Common Ground Review, Caveat Lector, Inland Empire Magazine, Carbon Culture Review, Vending Machine Press, Nebo: A Literary Journal, Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts, Streetlight Magazine, The Penmen Review, Whistling Shade, Cloudbank, Paragon Journal, Burningword, Poets’ Espresso Review, The Alembic, and Broad River Review. Her story, “Thirteen Memories,” received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s MAR/APR 2016 Very Short Fiction Contest. She lives with her husband in Southern California where she writes poetry and fiction.