The Idol and the Icon

no telling what lies on the other side:
                                                                     the X and its door:
                the wayfarer arrives at the throne
                                                                             at the end of the world
to find that the throne is a cardboard sign
                                                                             scrawled in black marker:
              (I thirst):
                               no one, nowhere: no “look no further”:
though the boy
                             waves his bottle over his head, walks the highway
                shirtless on the shoulder, the last
                                               of his water beading against clear
empty plastic, and visible
                                               from the car as we drove by. In the worst
                heat of the day.
       	                                    In the desert not far from the border.
So, the X
                   and its exits, the many passages since. So to have gone further
                out of the way—to have not been so sensible—
     	                                                                                            so that the walker,
watched sometimes, secretly, from the givenness, the order,
               of conditions that now still make their
    	                                                                             appearances known
—and utmost—wouldn’t be alone: here is water
                                                        	                     left on the roadside
               with the carrion,
and the cars that cross leftward, inex
 	                                                           -tricable from the broken line:

Copyright © 2019 Gina Franco. This poem was originally published in Quarterly West. Used with permission of the author.