In the light that steals across dead valleys like a shallow wave
anything that lives has lost its solid presence
the shape of life bleeds out into uncertain dust
and leaves a shadow on the shadow’s stain.
I have come to the west of the country
to stand on a red cliff and make myself known.
My shadow stretches in the afternoon
proof of my presence
thinning out shape-shifter
changing in the dips and gullies of red dust
like the shapeless ghosts of all the other women
who have been here before me.
And though I seem to have
some proof of my existence
the outline on the photograph
fails to keep my edges contained
absorbs my profile into its long lines of shadow
and takes away my legs
in an act of calculated cruelty.
This momentary stand I’ve dared to take
on the edge of a timeless cliff
may be caught in the lens of a camera
but its meaning is elusive and hides like a hunter
in the changing patterns
of my own dissolving shadow.