At 16 on a slow-moving train,
drawing the square jaw of the land,
the 2-day old stubble of succulents
across the brown cheek of the lowlands,
antelope bristling along the curved
edge of a ridge between the tracks and mesa.

No lines I drew satisfied.
Moving to the carriage’s other windows,
I saw twin iron crescents nailed
to the still shadowed ground.
Between mountain and plain,
the tracks gaped a dry riverbed.
I tore the page from my sketchbook
to try again.

When I looked up,
A woman on a horse near the tracks,
long black skirt, blue shirt
glimmering where it caught the sun
pulling up from the horizon.
From my place in the Amtrak bubble,

I could see her horse turn
along a road I didn’t,
until that moment,
realize was there.
After that, shapes came easily.

THE DRAWING LESSON by: Carol Shillibeer