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Desert Stop at Noon


The house is one bare room

And only tea is served.

The old man, mild, reserved,

Shuffles into a gloom

Where mattresses are laid.

I sip, grateful for the cool shade.


His small son watches me,

Approaches, pertly smiles.

I know that thirty miles

Without a house or tree

Surround their crumbling shack.

I drink again, relax, smile back.


Water?  And the boy’s mother?

Both seem impossible –

Yet here my glass is full;

If I ask for another

The boy brings bitter tea

Then grins gap-toothed and begs from me.


And love?  Impertinence

To ask.  I could not grieve,

Born here, to have to leave:

But he, a man, years hence,

His life elsewhere, may weep

With need to see his father sleep


Again, as now he does,

In careless honesty –

Too old for courtesy –

Oblivious of us.

I pay, and leave the shade,

The dark recess these lives have made.


Dick Davis



From Seeing the World, Anvil Press, © 1980.
Reprinted by permission of the author.

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