When the desert unfolds
It is not in every landscape that one searches for God.
But in the terrible, terrible beauty of desert mountains
where roadside shrines bunch together like wild rose bushes, we sit
on Joy’s porch talking about heaven and loss, drought and wind. She sighs,
“If heaven is no better than this, I’m o.k.” Her flinty brown eyes flare
like polished agate in the sand. A woman waters green thickets across the road; pulling the hose behind her, she weaves through blanched tree stubs
between the animal bones scattered around the paddock. Her dogs bark
as the blue pickup circles again. The buckskin mare moves closer to the gate.
Does the desert always smell like apples?
Falling asleep, I listen to cicadas rubbing their legs together like violin bows
and the voices of children playing tag in the hot wind. Under a splinter of the moon,
I dream of history with secret ancestors. Along this diamond road,
dust rains from lavender stains in the sky. Under the promise of its turquoise
swallowing red rock and fawn-colored lizards, the horse, the fading sun,
the smell of apples does not belong to me, but they could.