The desert, she does more than bake.
She takes. She breaks. She even aches.
One thing she won’t do is slake. Not often.
Takes a rare air to tear through there
And break the thirsties. But it does, time on a time.
You stamp that sand under your feet,
Thick rubber feet with padded soles,
Modern mutations, fruit of mind. Low hanging
Fruit, but who complains? I pity snails on
Desert sand comes in varieties, but it’s all dust,
Dead skin of every race of stone
Cracked in furnace, smoothed in storm.
Sand is the scrapings of the world,
Rolled down the mountain, down the dune.
It scrapes the world.
I’m always shocked at people living here.
What kind of mind, given the whole flat world
To stick a spear in, sticks it here
Where the stone point shreds with every thrust,
Where the prey is small and tough,
Where tooth and tail can spit a drink
That rips the spirit out and leaves a husk?
Hang the good and the bad from two ends of a stick
And see how far from the middle, toward the bad,
You have to set your finger underneath
To get it balanced. There must be something here,
Maybe the spirit ripped from wetter times,
Wiser and weirder, singing in the sand,
Brushing the hot rocks with its rags,
Small tufts catching on the sage—
I mean the shaman and the shrub,
There to be picked up in a word or on a ramble.
Hunkered for the kill, you might look up
And spot one twitching helplessly like a dry berry on a vine.
Something there was. It seized the sticks,
Chew-tipped with juice and grindings of the wild,
Signed with preliterate ease its near-true name
As near as fear and faith could come,
Its cartoon essence on the stones
Still cooling from the campfire of the gods,
Those ghosts that carved the shadows of the world.
(c) 2012 Mark Penny