Old Friend

Old Friend

How he had wanted to come

to this southwest continent of light

of rock

and sharp-tongued creatures

clawed and creviced

in the angled shadows.

How he had wanted to feel

the desert voices lilting in his throat

to hear that meadowlarks still exist

to see bluebirds

forming clouds across the ranges

and swallows.

He would have walked among the chollas

catsclaw acacia prickly pears

with smiling trepidation

talked to spiders

held tarantulas with curious care.

Even rattlers would have acknowledged him

in peace.

Each color of the painted sand

might have shaped in him new loves:

vibrations of limestone ochres

whites and lemons

basalt grays

the rusts of jasper sandstone oranges

and rose

each echo of striated rock a mood:

fresh figures

faces

touching fingers…

He would have held his arms alive

to welcome

each exclamatory day            each cloud each pebble.

Every barbed and tasselated fox-tail grass

canotia spine

or mesquite

would have exacerbated his longing

to exchange

his Eastern academic choking smog

for incandescent space

this breathing sky.