North of Tombstone, 3 A.M by Doug Stanfield
Shadows and silhouettes made by the waning moon
Slide past and disappear in the direction of California’a promise.
Off to the south somewhere over the sand and arroyos and cacti
Is Old Mexico. A few miles, no more.
A small town slips into view through the train window:
Safeway. Ace Hardware. A Benson Fuel station glares at a Shell station on the other corner.
Ten-thousand tons glide to a stop so softly it would not wake a baby with colic.
An old woman with a bonnet lifts a bag over the curb,
Joining our travels. Her husband watches that she
Gets on board, hands shoved in jeans pockets, then turns back to the pickup for the long
Drive home in the dark, another desert sunrise a few miles down the dusty road.
Rolling again, now. Eastward toward a corner of New Mexico, then El Paso and Texas.
The car rocks softly, the miles drift by, the engine far ahead
The horn blast at crossings barely heard and I feel myself drifting off to sleep again.
I wonder about the kind of man who would come here
In the early times, on horseback, or on foot
Across this dry emptiness that only wanted to suck the water from them?
Was it silver? Land? Water?
Or simply that those men had managed to run
All other choice away somehow,
And this dry place, full of ghosts and questions,
Was the last that would take them…
All human bonds snapped, rejected,
Starting over where no one could know your shame.
Indifferent it was to anything
But the water in them.
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