A Seattle Woman Looks at the Desert and Fills In Rain
By Elizabeth Gray

At first, only the landmarks change. This is my proof
of another life, the one my mind still reckons with.
I know at least forty different kinds of rain, can tell you
how a March downpour smells dazzlingly
of pear blossoms, how between the glassy falls
moisture rises, carrying the thick lakes, the familiar
fish bait. But here my words are beginner's words:
red rock, blue drum, wind. And like the place I've left,
you come with me too; only our final words stay home.
I don't think of shortcomings, yours or mine,
But how in those early days it was enough
To touch you without knowing, how my foot loved
To find the soft pulse hidden behind your ankle, and your hands
Itched travel my scars, the knobby cholla of my vertebrae.
We'd lie sharing small things in the darkness, before
We tried to name each other, hands and breath,
the way we edge a land with new names:
a cut road, a tin roof, kerosene. It was enough
to enter foreign, it was enough then to feel strange.
From a dry arroyo, a hawk sickles up, tracks across
a pathless sky, and for a moment I turn to the emptiness
beside me, forgetting you are not here to share it.
We are happy together for the first time in months.


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