Desert Drafts

Red

I have never been to New Mexico
red desert wide, skies high
above the mesa, the plains, soft
dusted cliffs, a black bird
flying miles away.
Consider: rock shale: arroyo:
names of things meant to evoke
dryness and height,
the image of a cracked white
skull nesting near a riverbed that
sees rain once a season.
I learn its strange geology:
Paleozoic and Mesozoic,
layers of minerals colored like
blood and oranges, pressed down,
and down and carved by wind
into mesas and columns where
palomino clouds compete for
the horizon.
I am interested in time.
I want to know how things
change, in the desert.
And I place stars on my ceiling;
with small globs of putty
I build constellations for you
the subject of my affection
to better understand what you see
when you close your eyes,
mine open in the dark,
both seeking something no
longer in front of us, the stars
not real except in the meaning
we care give them: recall a moonless
night in Galisteo, the wind warm
on your bare child skin: recall
stars in the river reflection,
pines, palms, an ocean in the
dark, my memories
now, yours too.

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