San Xavier del Bac

River of sky. Cloud-
drunk land. Painted

sand shivering off
the slanted swales

as each swell effaced
by crosswinds shifts,

a dune abandoned.
Distances advance

to nothing. Gravel
unravels over ghost

ranches. The borders
melt in hallucinations.

An order of Franciscan
monks enlisted Tohono

O’odham to build the
mission from tezontle

stones after Apaches
raided the first church;

razed it to the ground.
Vagrant ravens lurch

& vortex off from a dry
wash, leaving blanched

vertebrae. Day exits
into lava ash. Light

imprisoned at a faint,
a final edge. Each eye

gets sifted, swallowed
by the flame it travels.

Cliff-rose, mesquite, &
Xmas cholla; a century

plant risen beside a flag-
stone gestuary, baptized

in the xeriscape. Cactus
juice holds the baroque

effigies & scrollwork still
spilling from a golden age.

A gilded page illuminates
the rawboned mannerism

of one saint. Mural stained
by sun. Damages, miracles.