How he had wanted to come
to this southwest continent of light
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
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
Each color of the painted sand
might have shaped in him new loves:
vibrations of limestone ochres
whites and lemons
the rusts of jasper sandstone oranges
each echo of striated rock a mood:
He would have held his arms alive
each exclamatory day each cloud each pebble.
Every barbed and tasselated fox-tail grass
would have exacerbated his longing
his Eastern academic choking smog
for incandescent space
this breathing sky.