Sonora to Del Rio

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Sonora to Del Rio
by Robert Ervin Howard
First published in The Howard Collector #1, Summer 1961

Sonora to Del Rio is a hundred barren miles
Where the sotol weave and shimmer in the sun—
Like a host of swaying serpents straying down the bare defiles
When the silver, scarlet webs of dawn are spun.

There are little 'dobe ranchoes, brooding far along the sky
On the sullen, dreary bosoms of the hills.
Not a wolf to break the quiet, not a single bird to fly;
Where the silence is so utter that it thrills.

Maybe, in the heat of evening, comes a wind from Mexico
Laden with the heat of seven Hells,
And the rattler in the yucca and the buzzard dark and slow
Hear and understand the grisly tales it tells.

Gaunt and stark and bare and mocking rise the everlasting cliffs
Like a row of sullen giants carved of stone,
Till the traveler, mazed with silence, thinks to look at hieroglyphs,
Thinks to see a carven pharaoh on his throne.

And the road goes on forever, o'er the barren hill forever,
And there's little to hint of flowing wine—
But beyond the hills and sotol there's a mellow curving river
And a land of sun and mellow wine.