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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Desert Poem

 

 

 


When dust created blind men

the last wheel dropped

from the edge of the road.

All movement stopped―sky dark―in mid-afternoon.

First you heard sand polish the windshield;

then smelled it seep through the ducts;

last,

with eyes shut,

you tasted dirt.

Midnight brought its nightmares early.

Ten feet stretched into miles

and beams of light diffused in the hourglass.

Soldiers, heard but not seen, pointed

flashlights down―

and at a half-step,

searched for other voices

and the next plot of ground.

 

* * *

 

To find the truth you had to make a path.

 

* * *

 

Morning terrain hid fear

under a crisp blanket of dust.

The association of landmarks

stolen in the night

except this rock, eight feet,

shelter,

oasis―

sanctuary.

Maps of the desert showed open space,

their roads artistic lines

reflecting nothing.

 

* * *

 

  

Even nomads chose to live somewhere else.

 

* * *

 

Human routes became useless

so you navigated the landscape of memory

blank as the page.

The mind played the song

of what was never taught

and drowned subtle features from view.

Empty.

You removed goggles, wiped the lenses, and lacking

the azimuth* of home―cleaned the rifle

as the sun bleached the last reasonable thought.

 

* * *  

 

Routine kept you sane.

 

* * *  

 

Images not grasped by science or philosophy

filled spaces of past disappointment.

Day, with its half-sleep in a half-trench,

passed in the shade of rock.

 

* * *

 

To be stone-like, not stone.

 

* * *

 

Waiting for sunset, one-hundred-twenty in the shade.

Something brushed your arm

but when you turned―

it was gone.

 

* * *

 

The world, transparent, passed through your body.

 

* * *

 

Images crossed your path.

Even the rock,

after years, sandblasted and burnt,

faded.

In the make-shift bedding of dirt―

moisture and a patch of green

surprised you

beneath a dry boulder.

Lessons in a foreign language

once made no sense, then…

 

*  * *

 

He’emin, haya.**

 

  


*Azimuth is a direction measured in degrees or in relation to the observer.

**He’emin, haya translates from Hebrew to English as He who believes, lives.


 

Reprinted from the first book of poems published by Grey Sparrow Press,

Overwatch by Allen Gray.