Susana H. Case
When she clears dead saguaro flowers from her front yard
there is only the wind thrown off by stronger force.
It is always this way. She knows scarred saguaro skin will not heal
back to pristine. Hardened space now home to kestrel
or elf owl nest. Knows after family prayer her husband without word
will saddle his horse take gun to hip and track. His return
will not be straight.
There is another
waiting. Knows the waxy white saguaro castoffs she holds
are her secret cross to bear. Illness turning bone to powder.
Knows it will clear the path. Dried flowers making way for fruit.
It’s all about the car: where it takes me,
where it leaves me. You turn and I ask already knowing
can it ever be different?
Clutter could finally cover the whole city as you shake
your head no. At desert edge, the last house
from last year—no longer last. I stare too long
at metal fences while dust devils swirl
in new still-empty yards. So many ways
to keep a person out. It hardly matters how disturbance
takes root in my mind. This time a smoker
on a ridge road, fires flash again, no rain, no touch,
for seventy days. I can see the air. But next time
we could be different, like the Old Spanish Baptist Church
whose plastic marquee now says salvation is a gift.
If I leave, then come back new like that, every highway
this same dream. There’s nothing
but movement out here. Or I could leave,
never come back. The map rattles
with flame and ash, builds in my head. Lacy cicadas jump
and rub themselves. Chatter with the heat.
Desire. That must be what it was like for Georgia O’Keefe,
face aged like oak
in Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch, heating the desert.
I thought a little road wear not so bad;
would make a reasonable offer, then I waited
for any offer.
At too many antique fairs, I moved
my fingers over finely patinated
wood surfaces. The finishes whispering
very desirable period.
Still, maybe her young man
was merely a potter, an acolyte. Didn’t truly adore her,
want to fill her life with zest and pulp.