Sunday, February 14, 2016


A Desert Five-spot mallow bleeds in the gravel,
a rare Valentine amid the Gravel Ghosts.
The Funeral Mountains are giddily dressed
in alluvial skirts spangled with Desert Gold,
Phacelia, Poppy and Purple Mat

After that last Biblical deluge,
the saltpan was scoured white as snow.
Decades of dustorms had blanketed it
against the elements.

I remember following a dry streambed
from Badwater to the far side of Death Valley
to see the pupfish. The streambed was white,
and satin-smooth, like a bolt of silk,
I lay down on it like a lover, caressing its skin.

It meandered like a shining ribbon
through the jagged knife-dark hell
of the Devil's Golf Course
with its labyrinth of salt spires.

I walked barefoot on that path for miles,
soft plodding of feet against saltpan
like two fish flopping in a mirage of water.
But they thirsted for sweetwater
in an otherwise arid landscape.

rev. 3/21

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