You said more than you meant to on the edge of Salt Lake City,
where the one-eyed woman panhandled outside our room
and shell casings littered the Salt Flats. You let a lizard run
circles through your fingers. I had never seen someone pick up
the desert. I had never heard distant gunfire.

Why do I think of you this evening when I see three horses stagger
alongside traffic and settle into the empty lot behind my building,
grazing there so their owners won’t have to feed them?

Maybe it’s how you set your body loose at night, how it comes running
back in the morning, dark and bloodied, wincing
but steady.

The iridescence of blowflies circling horse shit
is the blue-green Marmara in miniature,
the winds from which erode the rubber seal
around my window and whistle the same tune
all winter long. There’s an ancient name for these winds.

Rainwater floods my living room, and the sea turns gold.
In the half-overcast that follows the gore of dawn, the piles,
the glory of crabgrass and dandelion, dissolve into mud
in an afternoon thunderstorm. I can see the U.S. desert
from my living room sofa.

Your whole life seems light until I have it packed in a wooden cart
and junk dealers carry it through town. The boys strain
in its shadow, grubby with the soot of your old things.
Salvage what the others want. Melt down the rest.

Keith Carver is originally from Michigan, but lives in Turkey now, near the Black Sea. He is working on a collection of poems about leaving America.

Photography by Thomas Gillaspy.