Six Desert Poems by David Hinton

Six Desert Poems by David Hinton

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I fall asleep
in wind, and dream
wind, horizon-

wide desert
wind. People say
dreams reveal
us to our-
selves. So when I

wake I
set out, wander wind-

scoured mountain
ridgelines, getting to know
myself again.



This is what it
means to be
human, they
say: tools,
language, stories

perhaps. It seems
so simple. And yet
what am I

when the eye, the mirror-
deep eye empties
mind of everything
but a storyless white-

tailed hawk
banking steeply
into a wild
thermal, wings

buffeted as it
spirals up and finally
vanishes into

desert sky?



Traveling today I
found a river
somewhere inside
me, wondered

how far it
wanders there

and how much
sky it
mirrors. All day
long, wind and desert

light, I
followed that river’s
distances, shedding

histories, until I was
nothing but
river. Nearing
mountains, I grew

cold with snow-
melt and evening

wolves drank from my
currents, tasting
the clarity of water

rinsing through every
cell alive, always
changing, always its own
transparent self.



The desert sees
itself through
many brilliant
eyes, whole

histories of eyes: antelope
eyes, hummingbird,
fox, lizard, vulture. It

knows itself
so perfectly
by now, I wonder

why it keeps
talking like this?



Water rinses
stone steadily
away, a promise it
never stops

perfecting. I’m
made of stone dust
it long ago

scoured loose, and it keeps
rinsing through my
every glistening
cell with its elemental

promise. By now
there’s nothing

to it: I can
return so
easily to streamwater
thin across
bedrock, wade

there through
mirrored origins.



The desert never
mentions arrival. Solar

heat, sky, dust-
light, a few parched

rinse so far
through me
there’s nowhere

else to go. I
set out.




David HintonDavid Hinton’s new book of poems is Desert, from which these poems are taken. Among his many books is Hunger Mountain, and more recently The Wilds of Poetry. He can be visited at
Read more work by David Hinton appearing in, including an excerpt of Existence and translations of poetry by Li Po, Weng Wei, and Wang An-shih.

Header photo by Simmons B. Buntin. is the first online literary journal of place, publishing award-winning literature, art, editorials, and community case studies since 1998.