LA LENGUA DE DESIERTO

I am searching for words

            like the coyote cruising

            the high desert for game.

Eloquence escapes me

            and I turn to the language of sand,

                        the language of sage and manzanita

                        and ocotillo blooming in the night.

 

My hands move lightly,

            like desert wind.

Touch your taut breasts,

blow across your shoulders,

trace your bare arroyo of vertebrae,

and rest against the subtle declivity

            at the small of your back.

 

You fall asleep and I watch you.

I imagine the mesa

            watches the canyon in this way;

with love and distance.......

 

I am thirsty

and awash in this mirage of skin.

I am ravenous -

            bold and determined as a golden eagle

            perched on a bare cottonwood in mid-day sun.

I want you in the complex way the desert wants rain.

 

The desert knows that easy promises

            belong to other ecosystems.

The desert promise is the cholla blossom,

            waiting the exact impulse of midnight to evoke its gift.

It is the spadefoot toad,

            waiting for a sudden puddle,

                   so it can explode in mating frenzy

            and race evaporation to claim its next generation.

The desert can not afford prognostication;

            but it requires responsiveness.

 

If I respond to you

it is because some part of you fills me

            like the desert in downpour.

And I must be ready to take you in -

            not as I would have you be in some ideal climate.

            but as you are right now,

Knowing that desert reality

bears gifts more rare and vivid

            than any fantasy.

 

R.S. Russell