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.

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