Derek Sheffield
An Accurate Account of the West

They never rode into
the sunset, didn't slowly blur
themselves into puddles, or burst,
man and horse fused in one
fell buck, one myth of ash
gone to the sinking mound.

Instead they rode toward
gaseous fusion, in the direction of
the photosphere as shadows
reached back like charred arms, thinly
touching the still, dusty feet
pointing up at the edge of town.

They rode away
from the doors of saloons
that opened onto a twisting dance
of rock and sand. No music
or slithering feathers, no red grin
rising from the corner.

Or, some minor character
like me, leaning against
this here fir tree in the rain,
this second-growth green,
could put it like this, a side-mouth spit
as the solar wind tears at my hat.