With Esther in Arizona

There's something about a desert flower,
defiant blue petals, a dainty thin stem
with will enough to stick it to the dust, the dryness. "Don't pick it, for God's sake," says Esther.
"Pick a rock if you must. Or a lizard."
This was inland sea once.
I wonder if this tiny blossom has that memory.
I stand there, admire this fluttery blue survivor
like it's the Grand Canyon
or a work by Hals.
Esther knows where this is going.
Her eyes are blue.
Her throat is staunch and upright.
A desert woman is also not a rock,
not a lizard, not something to be
pulled up by the roots, a momentary
beauty condemned to eternal death,
just so a man can have it in his hands
one time.
"Not many can live in this place," she tells me.

Later, we watch sunset color mountains brick.
Then darkness like a giant with one long primitive step.
Sure, there's stars aplenty
but they've never seemed so far off.
It's as if we see the back of them,
that they save their real shine
for green planets elsewhere.
The only real light flickers from Esther's adobe hut.
The afternoon desert we saw
holes up in her paintings, red and brown and
dull grainy yellow.
No blue flower.
Like she says,
the desert's no place to find one.


words: John Grey, Rhode Island (What Else Is There)
image: Margot Miller, Maryland (Margot Miller)


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