Roadside, ghost

When I swing the dust-
throated door into summer
prairie weather turns my breath to ash.
Language here is distance, then thunder—
the heat a slow murder.

In a ditch outside town
a flowered cross
all white lilies and violet thistle
marks like prayer another gravel road death.
Painted horses at the fenceline
eat the gunmetal sky
knee high in wheat, in wind.

I cross the rust-
threaded barbed wire to feel
the brittle grass of this field beneath me, to feel
the pull that tethers our feet to dust.
That old fence howls and your name burns
my eyes like lightning.

Bone cottonwoods so crooked
in this place built on straight lines
shake free their dark starlings.
They gather in flight
a shape I nearly recognize.
Further out, a buckskin pony
is galloping hard into opening air

is becoming a book of feathers.