Once in the desert he said he saw
the shape of a man, a body,
the line around it neither light nor dark
standing speechless in his path.
That he could feel his shirt draw back
against his body his mind
was already giving back to fear
until the figure turned to yield and let him pass
another slope of brush and rock
laid out like bodies turned in sleep,
bodies sinking in the field
that he crossed blind.
That in the desert of his mind before the figure
deemed his figure in the dark,
turned back to wait for others
crossing late behind,
he saw the room he left at morning,
the man he was still pulling
the same shirt over his shoulders,
across his chest. That he could feel that shirt
fall back against his skin
the way light when there is any
hope of light falls back and
back against the eye.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.