Before he got up and danced
he’d watched the sun rise
over the desert valley.
Then he rose and twirled
like a wounded hawk.
He knew in the deepest
part of him his religion
was the beauty in front of him.
He danced on that cold dawn
hill because the desert was deep
inside of him.

He said a prayer to the land,
then walked down the hill
passing barrel cactus, yuccas,
outcroppings of schist, gneiss, granite.
He crossed a wash, walked into
a field of Joshua trees, mammoth boulders.
He reached camp, hugged a woman
who’d also been on that hill at sunrise
and had the desert deep inside her.
She did not speak to him just then,
she was deep with the Mojave’s silence.

She hugged him back
like you’d hug the wind
warmed by the sun and turned
into a brother who has the landscape
shining in his eyes: cholla cactus, creosote,
junipers, cats paws, and rocks climbed over
to reach nowhere but the desert.

Two hawks cry to each other flying north.
Coyotes bark at dawn, a plane drones high above.
It is precisely because there’s nowhere to get to
that you walk with a destination in mind.
Maybe a piece of quartz in early afternoon light,
or red dusk sun whitening granite soil,
or a deep feeling that takes you
by surprise, hugs you, dances with you,
rises like the moon in your night,
in the turning of your body
on the starry floor of solitude.

He is the coyote yapping outside camp,
the lone dog howling to its brothers,
the night hunter embracing a world
that gives him stones when he comes for water.

After twirling
he fell to earth
and kissed a rock.


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