Bleak landscapes file past the windows
as the sun lowers toward the horizon ahead
sand, tumbleweeds, creosote bushes, cactus
the lights of oncoming trucks temporarily blinding
endlessly varied landscape, shifting colors
of brown, green, grey, violet, bushes bursting with bloom
after an unexpected rain, the desert odors of wetness
blowing in through the opened windows
coolness relieving the long day of driving.
It would be too easy and entirely trite
to try to make this place and time
some kind of metaphor for my life, or anyone’s.
The surface impressions are only that anyway.
Knowing the ecosystem, were I to spend any time
in real observation, there would be the countless
moments of carnivorous action or desiccation
death and life, prey and predator.
Some would make that a metaphor as well,
but the interconnectedness of life in any system
is too complex to be reduced.
No, if there is an image here
it is the solitary driver passing through
aware and unaware of the surroundings
knowing some intellectually, some sensually,
some by inference, some through previous encounter,
some only through trust in mystery.
Desert is not the metaphor, but passage
transition, transformation; because no encounter with raw desert
leaves anyone, no matter how insulated, unscathed.
Bugs fly in and splatter on the rear inside window.
The dryness invades all, chapping lips and shriveling sinuses.
We leave wilderness parched and desolate.
If we choose to leave:
We might remain for love of desolation
or love of what took us into wildness
or simply love without reason, unremitting, inescapable.
Some wilderness is of our own making,
but once made, is the only real choice.
Love’s wilderness, wild and abandoned, blooms unexpectedly
flowers opening into fullness where hope had withered,
life returning from life, senses saturated, hearts thankful.

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