Ghost Town Visitor

Off of US 66, west of Kingman, Arizona

by Jeffrey C. Alfier
for Richard Hugo

Apaches never returned the woman 
they named this town for.  But the residents'
thin faith did not die till the war effort 
said the mines were useless.  Thucydides 
never claimed that ghosts and homeless burros 
could substitute for human flesh and bone
in the definition of a city,
though some could find themselves strung from gallows 
whose rope will only gape at tourists now.  
That wind howling past abandoned mineshafts
stings your eyes and summons hollow voices 
of old preachers warning you that one day
your lust will become your vanishing point
when you find out too late that love means more 
than tasting skin. Yet you force your mind back 
to the breeze raking the austerity 
that unfolds before you.  In this spent place 
the rocks sing in ultraviolet light, 
just for the smiles of children.  But you know 
if wind moves in a tomb it sounds like this.

 2003 by Jeffrey C. Alfier. All rights reserved.