I’ve been gone a while, doing things that require work like traveling, writing assignments, lying sick in bed, but today has been a restful day. I took photos of my desk,
myself reflected in the computer screen (up above). Then I researched quartz for no compelling reason and wrote a poem based on an experience I had while traveling last week.
Some sad things have struck my family since my mother died last summer, and they caused me to be called out of town. I knew I wanted to write a poem about something that happened on the trip but didn’t know how to begin. At three in the morning Wednesday, sleepless, I wrote down five words ~ ghost, laugh, laundry, edges, beer ~ and posted them as a prompt on Poetry Jam, a blog I’m hosting this week. I wrote the poem Thursday. I’m interested to see what other poets do with the words.
Ghost Town, Mojave Desert
Someone spilled a glass of milk in the sky
and the indifferent wind pushes it
against the barren hills that frame this town.
From the open window of a stale motel
I watch the creamy puddles eddy
among signs that scream for gas, food, lodging
as mesquite brush waffles in a vacant lot.
When I was a girl, I cruised that drag
in a blue Mustang and worked at a florist’s
over there, where that pawn shop squats.
I want to hate it now, with everyone I love
erased from here. But I see my father
teaching me to steer an army Jeep
across the desert, his brown arm braced
against the windshield as we bounce along
and laugh. I see my mother hanging laundry
on the clothesline by the driveway, where
my brothers and their cronies lounge
against their trucks with cans of beer
and shirttails hanging out. I hear my family
working, banging, revving, hammering,
the pop of rivet guns, hissing blowtorch,
the hollow whine of sheet metal
sculpted in their hands. I smell the tang
of ozone, sharp as a knife, after the rain
and I smell the sand, a billion shifting grains
of memory that stick like windblown grit
and won’t wash off, except in the blessed rain
which comes only when it will, not
when you will it. On the edges of my life
the wind still sings its love for the desert
and I taste the sweet bitter fruit of loss.