Who would have thought of building

a mud-walled fortress here,

in this bleak stretch of desert?

You could be anywhere.


Who were the loyal soldiers

who guarded, in such heat,

this empty piece of nowhere?

Was this their last retreat,


or was this for them the frontier

where they hoped to keep out

another  wilderness?  Unmapped.

Silence. Distance. Doubt.

Published in Snakeskin 261, May 2019