This skeletal tree’s the relic
of a saint—nondescript
martyr to drought.

Ensconced this morning in reliquary light.

An egret’s nest clings to its ribs
with three Tiffany blue eggs, miraculously
unmolested by predators.


Latent water kept the reeds green,
almost, long after scrub brush
adjusted to dust.

Rainfall pools down in the slough again,
too late for the reeds.

But a frog’s croaking somewhere—
a local Lazarus
emerged from its dark sepulcher.


The dirt here has nothing left to hold onto:
every last tumbleweed’s undone
and roots were illusory anyway.

Abandoned burrows. No owl
hunting shadows where nothing hides.

And yet, tonight,
not at all a desiccated moonscape,
this is holy ground,
sanctified by barrenness.


Don Thompson has been writing about the San Joaquin Valley for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks, the most recent of which include Suite Pneuma and Behind the Blue Door. For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at http://www.don-e-thompson.com.