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December 6, 2022

A Dig in the Desert

We’re here to uncover life
in all this desert death,
its afterimage at least,
while, for mile after mile,
the sun’s intent is clear,
to glaze over all that happened here.


The earth itself is Sol’s ally in this,
as the light, the heat,
come as much from below as above,
radiate out like the fading ghosts
of old atom bomb tests.


It is never wrong to be confident
of finding what we’ve come for,
no matter how desolate the place.
It can be done. It has to be done.
Every new detail is a small voice
within the massive silence.


The sameness is never quite the same.
For weather is not unknown in these parts.
The erratic wind can be depended on,
the way it swirls through, scuttles the work,
blows up in our faces.

And sudden rain clouds spit and run.
Saguaro, scrub and lizard,
sip particles from the sky.
On the horizon, a lightning flash
shimmers across gray mountain peaks.


But it’s what’s at our feet the matters most.
Some scrape. Some take photographs.
A few dig hard like Burke and Hare,
to get at the history beneath.
But recent times penetrate deep.
It takes of lot of sweat and pain
to get down to the past,
to find enough remnants
for modest exhalation.


The desert feels so much like
a land before creation,
while at the same time,
giving off this aura
of creation’s work being long since done.


Our tiny team though
is proof that there is still some kind of present.
I take a gulp of water
as evidence in my favor.


© the author

by John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Washington Square Review and Floyd County Moonshine. Latest books, “Covert,” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the McNeese Review, Rathalla Review and Open Ceilings.

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