Chaparral

Gabe Johnson

i swear in summer i spoke
elk to fading coasts and mist,
your former headlands.

last year’s tents by gentle
tributary—a ventana ridge
talked me down

to this specific earth.
your taproot is a bamboo flute,
i felt it in the sandstone.

forgive me, father, it’s been
months since i’ve seen deer,
knees buckled in the dust.