…what an enskyment.
    What a life after death.

        --Robinson Jeffers

Spring rains have moistened
the Sonoran Desert. We follow
fragrant fields of lupine, paintbrush, 
and monkey flowers into Aravaipa Canyon, 
where winding trail and stream
often merge, where our low boots
startle loach minnows and chub.
Midday we shelter beneath a cottonwood,
watched over by bighorn sheep
patrolling red sandstone cliffs.

We nibble cashews and Jarlsberg,
doze in the shade, and wake
to find vultures circling, 
close enough for us to see
their naked red heads. 

You laugh, and quote a Jeffers poem.
We vow to return
when we grow old. 
We vow to leap
from these high cliffs, to soar
in vulture bellies
with our bones picked clean, 
left to whiten in the sun.

David Stallings was born in the U.S. South, raised in Alaska and Colorado before settling in the Pacific Northwest. Once an academic geographer, he has long worked to promote public transportation in the Puget Sound area. His poems have appeared in several North American, U.K. and Swedish literary journals and anthologies, and in Resurrection Bay, a recent Evening Street Press chapbook.