one way Almost Mexico
B.E. Anstandig

Organ Pipe cactii bloom a silent yellow
the whole distance to Why, Arizona
and I ask for water,
my body drunk with the absence of it,
reed of the fiddler's bow dry.
I'm happy to watch a cloud silver
in front of the sun, really pleased with myself
and the hash. Rocks sit like bronze-cast Buddhas,
laps pushed forward, their backs
making necessary lines
and I'm still looking for where they end.

You look for the elegance in pain,
your nipples holding jewels and silver hoops.
But that's easy.
Not like the smell of sage, violent
after a summer monsoon
when the desert sky blues itself back.
Or that scent which comes next,
creosote slurring above blood-dried down,
a jackrabbit's hind leg buried below stray leaves.

On this white-crossed highway,
you drive too fast toward Mexico. I dream
a crab's limp skeleton, the shell
turned to soft flesh. I keep it
delicate in my powder compact.
Funny how it stares at itself in the mirror
until there's no recognition. How long will it take
poor soul who wants the sea
for the thin desert sand to digest
each pink claw?

Is this the winding part? You don't answer
as the rattlesnake asphalt rises in waves,
turns heat to light. We pull off the road,
our bodies still humming with the engine.
We eat cheese sandwiches with warm-spiced mustard
at the Texaco station and I throw my bread
to the reservation dogs scurrying on the oiled concrete.
They shy away from the movement of hands,
then come begging for more, ears first,
tails everywhere, until you drag me back to the car,
we've got a date with the border.
You drive too fast toward midnight,
the Sonoran desert finally cooling at the coastline.
A dim moon rides the sky
over the Sea of Cortez and we run straight to the tidepools
to soak our swollen feet. I step hard
onto a jawbone, one canine tooth
still sharp in place
slicing my heel. I scream as the salt pours in
and you search the sand for more bones
lifting one rib from the dark water. You
glance the shadows for a dog
you think you can hear,
swear you can almost see him behind us.

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