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High Desert Afternoon
by Ed Bennett

I will sing a four-wheeled song
As I leave the houses behind,
Crank the radio with Springsteen's voice,
Open all the windows so the dry heat
Swaddles me.

Then I hear it: the hum of steel belts
On this polished asphalt piece of road
Miraging the striped black ribbon
Into a silvered shining mirror
Of the sun.

I will know when I am there:
The flat patches of high desert
Fading the scant green to brown,
Rocks baking in the autumn heat.
I am here.

I walk out on the hardpan surface
Accompanied by a silence so deep
That the dry air susurrates,
Gives voice to the formless movement
Of the wind.

The First Ones prayed to an angry
Solar God, omnipotent and lethal,
But night would fall and they would see
Kokopele hunched and dancing madly
In the dark.

I will never find a better place
Than this, the desiccated scape
Where nightlife is a coyote's cry
And daylight burns pure
In your soul.

Bury me in this desert, with the Flame Star
Overhead and the scurry of claws and paws
In the distance. Give me the peace
Of one on the edge of Creation.
This is home.


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