I am a cousin of the American deserts;
I visited them every year—driving
with my family, the freeways stretching out…
Time and distance lull and soothe and soon
the hypnotic suggestion of the road arises, and then
the Kingdoms of desert appear
—California, Nevada, Arizona…
When I was a child, my family pilgrimaged
to my grandparents’ at least once a year;
a return to Mecca or simply spawning upstream
for my parents, but they had no idea…
…the majesty of this alien world we’d
hurtle through in the night.
I could feel the cold pulse along the station wagon window
could feel the bite of the desert night as I shut off
my Walkman and pressed my hands against the window
until I slept…
I half-dreamed wolves that wander the sands
snakes beneath rocks, skins shed in the sun
and the mysterious origin of bleached animal bones
dignified by dirt and sunlight and time.
All these things and more I learned
over the hundreds of hours of riding, of driving.
An anarchy of nothing rules dirt like ocean
rules water, or rather, I remember a different order:
one of weather-worn rock and childhood mirages,
one of silence and vast mystery.