peter tellone
The Movers
by Cynthia Anderson

Every ferryman has to start
somewhere. In the dog days
of August, young Charon
gets his chance: after six years
of packing the truck, they let him
drive it, before dawn, across the desert
to meet Gilgamesh and Enkidu.
Older, wiser in tomfoolery,
the two fast friends watch
that eager pup injure his paw
and bleed himself off the job,
leaving them free to unload
the way they wanted.
King G, tall, blond, and lean,
sings the furniture’s praises
to the lady of the house,
while Enki, a swarthy
stevedore, recites the litany
of local threats: fire ants,
scorpions, snakes, and worse,
the killer who descends
through the cooler duct
straight into the living room.
He grins with his parting shot—
You’ll have to deal with them
whether you like it or not.

PHOTO: “Sunset, Hidden Valley” (Joshua Tree National Park, California) by Peter Tellone. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 2008, my husband Bill Dahl and I moved from the California coast to the tiny Mojave Desert town of Joshua Tree—in August, the hottest month of the year. One young man drove the moving van all night from the coast to our new home. Two movers from San Bernardino joined him on site to unload. As the poem relates, the young man injured himself and the two San Bernardino men completed the job. One man in particular hated the desert and made sure to tell us why. As for us, our love for the desert—the climate, the wildlife, the wide open spaces, and the peace and quiet—continues unabated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Askew, Dark Matter, Apercus Quarterly, Whale Road, Knot Magazine, and Origami Poems Project. She is the author of five collections—In the Mojave, Desert Dweller, Mythic Rockscapes, and Shared Visions I and II. She frequently collaborates with her husband, photographer Bill Dahl. Cynthia co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens.