“Apple Tree With Red Fruit,” oil on canvas, by Paul Ranson, c. 1902.

by Robert S. King

I come to the line in the sand
drawn by a serpent’s shadow:
A finger writing, not straight, not deep,
the birth of a canyon
that the wind might yet redraw,
might erase from having been.
It points in two directions,
though I’ve traveled four and some darkly—
I who would not go straight
from cradle to grave
have staggered along a crooked road,
have shed skins thin as mirages,
until the tangle of myself
has pulled me here, has tied me here.

You’ve somehow arrived here too,
strangely without clothes or baggage,
without worry of stepping over the line.
Even in desert sun no scales crack through
your skin of almost pure light.
Your tracks do not hurry around themselves
like a twisted puzzle.
Here then is your starting line
and my ending.

omega man

Robert S. King lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Hollins Critic, Kenyon Review, Lullwater Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Negative Capability, Southern Poetry Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Writers’ Forum. He has published three chapbooks (When Stars Fall Down as Snow, Garland Press 1976; Dream of the Electric Eel, Wolfsong Publications 1982; and The Traveller’s Tale, Whistle Press 1998). His full-length collections are The Hunted River and The Gravedigger’s Roots, both from Shared Roads Press, 2009. He recently stepped down as Director of FutureCycle Press in order to devote more time to his own writing. He continues to serve the press as Poetry Co-editor.