Billowing from behind the barn before dawn
rising, clouds hang and drift, coat everything
as saddle horses wake to play over fences
in August, when there is no dew nor brittle stems
to cling to. Expectant mothers waddle to the water
trough, dragging their feet in soft, deep powder
pounded fine enough to float, to trail behind them.
Within the Palo Verde’s safe thatch of thorny limbs,
the reveille of quail brushing dreams from their eyes
before their morning march to the rock pile
in the middle of the bare horse pasture—even
the tiny feet of laggards catching-up stir the dust.
The first dry leaves lift in a swirl of weather changing,
distant premonitions that stir the flesh to ask
if the stage is set to settle this ever-present dust