Desert Road Trip | Ann Whittaker

Above, that sky stretches
tighter than canvas cracked
with heat and the pigment
the sun carries.
Above, electrical currents travel
so fast the buzzing unwinds us
and we slow our pace for caution.

Below, the water is gone
deep and scarce. Only dry layers
for the wind to carry
effortlessly to either side of the
highway. Below, the heat comes back
and faces its source and in the
middle waves in the air like the ocean
that might as well be a mirage.

Ahead, the road disappears into a
throat-grabbing emptiness
and a yellow sign tells us to curve
left at a pace so fast there’s no
time for breath or break. Sagebrush blurs into
rhythms of arid abstraction.

Where are all the trucks going?
Where are the farms and why are we
so out of place in a land where they
grow food for us to eat?

Inside, proteins and neurons light
in a fiery pulse because this
body is this desert when the sun
rises relentless and it does not matter
that this body is almost water ––

Outside, the geography of
light and dark and longing for
shadow hours to slow photosynthesis ––
to prevent over-nourishment, to welcome
rest and growth and the contours
that form a picture.

The trucks continue on the highway.
I will eat. I will sleep. I will burn.
I will rest. In the shadow hours.

Ann WhittakerComment