Evening come, wind at rest, mosquitoes and gnats ready. The one street light flickers on as if the distant bray of wild burros had sent a command. Sweat trickles along the spine to signal time to replenish. I drink from the warm water in a tall mason jar. The springs on the daybed by the cooler signal another life. Fingers gripping jar, i rise slowly.
Little brown bat shakes her head, ears flapping, she stretches one arm, then the next in a nearly imperceptible shudder. she yawns and scans the air, and curls back in her head down posture along the boards until darkness calls. i sit further into the recess of the evening, waiting, looking into the vanishing mountain for a change of the guard.
The Desert big horn have spontaneously disappeared from the ridge above. Like cardboard figures being yanked from an Indian backdrop. Hunger pulls the vagus string inside, yet i will not move. Ever changing, ever present, the crepuscular theater unfurls as surround sound and scene. I will the night hawk to show the figure eight mastery of moth catching by the mercury light above. From behind the bean vines i miss not a turn, not a whoosh of wing. I am moth and dark bird, white tip and crooked beak, alone among sleek flying mates. flapping the last dance of a short life.
Amargosa toads erupt out of sand beneath the datura, seeking moisture and insects in the early relief from sun. I am spotted skin and long legs, ready to pounce and feed, to hop and mate by the silent narrow stream below, left over from last year's rain. Egret flies up at dusk and danger past, his belly full of tadpoles caught as captives in an algal puddle. His neck folded, his eye alert in this last effort of day. I see the land beneath his slow wing, unrolling mass of tamarack and olive, drained by the slimy runoff of man's disrespect.
Behind me, the house groans, the springs wince, as i breathe ever shallow breath to stretch the evening out into peace, little bat turns her head my way, takes flight and skillfully turns to the light pole, she circles and designs scrolls against the enveloping blackness beyond. The many little hawks have vacated and bats arrive from the few trees along the ghost banks of the underground river. Some have slid from hot attics in abandoned minor's shacks in the canyon. I am air gliding, whirling, cascading and swooping everything that flies to the attraction of a single light on the edge of the ghost town. The floor hisses behind the door, i swallow the tepid water rolling in my mouth in silent liquid motion.
From midway up the canyon walls, the unmistakable call of a burro threatens intruders on his descent into the gully to extract a drink of sinking waters. Angry brays echo from another trail, hooves send sharp slate shards and rolling stones down the steep incline. A female warns her young of impending kicks and savage bites. I am gray and brown, and jumping out of the way, hiding behind a vegetal screen watching the invisible coming to the impossible along the desert floor. I am mother of foal and nursing protector of health, i find the grass, the rose and the squash in sad front yards of mistaken species. The door hinge squeaks between violent honking and fights, i set the quart jar on the porch floor.
Two chicks peep timidly from a box, hanging off the edge of cardboard, they squawk for feed, cracker crumbs and grassy meal, They live between need and purpose, a short span at best. I am egg, i am fowl, feather and nourishment, i am here, and night closes the screen of consciousness in a ring of darkness. I am the lonely animal, preserving, prolonging, from the shadow where the one coyote will sense me long after the equines have had their meal of amaranth and bunch grass, the heron will sleep in the lone cottonwood. And i will find comfort in the donkey snorting in a dream on the flank of his female and young genie by the tree.