The Last Bite of the Emergency Apple

Silver Canyon, Santa Catalina Island

You take the last bite of the emergency apple,
while the teeth-y skulls of Barbary goats stare up from dusty shale,
from boulder strewn creek beds dry now in Indian summer swelter;
you tread unstable canyon avalanches that make new
valleys with now unfamiliar trails, while heat climbs out of the century,
beyond the untenable forecast. When you yawn and walk
ten paces to the shade, vaguely aware it’s not supposed to feel like this,
you recall unfathomable ponds from underground springs
were once enough to sustain you. In the five-pace-near-drop gate,
the wall you can’t seem to get beyond, the dizziness that means
exhaustion, you eye-level spy the recluse spider lounging in its net,
taking it all in, awaiting a fatal misstep, the unsuspecting visitor.
When you glance forward, unbearable sunshine, an untraceable trail.
Bushwhacking through the ravine scars you, alternate cliff routes
appear impassable in your condition. Hold water in before you swallow,
keep your mouth closed to retain moisture, wait for the point
at which ridge leads to road, and road leads to home.

Marc Malandra’s work has appeared in nearly 30 different venues, including Ascent, Caveat Lector, Flyway, Orange Coast Review, Poetry Northwest, and South Florida Poetry Review. He teaches American literature at Biola University in La Mirada, California.
*Photo courtesy of Robert Raines.
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