Altered echoes of order
return to the shimmering rim
as the search begins.
Men walk mules
along thin chalk lines
drawn through dust.
Leather boots and cracked hooves
raise syncopated puffs
of gray sand and red clay
like a ricochet of stones
skimmed across a pool.

Distance doubles in heat
Through the haze
the river seems caught
between the rocks
like a wedge of broken wing
from which hangs
the dangling form of a dying angel.
Torn tissues of roots of wing
swing him from sunlight
into shade
like a stroboscopic
pendulum of pain.

Frayed strains of repeated failure
suddenly snap
then pull back in silent retreat.
Critical consequence
is evident: the initial ascent
must now be made by men.

They think the three days wasted,
and without a sign
(without a sound)
prepare for their return.
No one heard the splash;
its spray dried in mid-air.
And nobody saw the severed wing
waving goodbye in the wind.