There is the wind which may swirl through saplings and their parents and the tall grasses and dried flowers.
Bird wings flutter, mostly away. Scratchings and rustling beneath the lowest branches and in the thick brier. Delicate colors as in a painter’s palette, aside, muted and subdued in a landscape held back.
The memory flutters. The words choke well before reaching the tongue. So say nothing.
There are those memories of the autumnal winds when seasons turn upside down and the icy drama of the silver winter threads through the hollows between trees stirring last year’s brown leaves into a low ruckus and crackle. Thin and bare sycamore branches, delicate and bony, trace low and lonely moans in their dark choir. Pink sand from the nearby riverbed salted everywhere and anywhere; grit flecked in your hair, in your shoes, in your eyes. These are the days. These were the days. These are the heartfelt and kind memories of these days.
The shape of the Mojave is formed by everything that is not Mojave.
Ocean Woman rose naked from the sea. She became the mountains and valleys and glistened as she slept under the moon. She became awake as the sun rose and warmed her. That is what I heard.
Clouds pass by here, everything passes by; shadows, people. It is just desert. discord, strife, conflict, contention, Jangled trees in discord, sticks, twigs, gray plants that are most likely dead, not that they ever had a chance, or did they?
Patience, Brother. Listen to the raging and eroding wind–with its grit and dust–it will help you to know peace–that anger has no use for ascent.
We come to the desert by different paths at different times for various reasons, this is how the weaving begins. The weaving. The constant weaving and braiding and twisting and tying of stories and realities and things in between.
This is the land, too. One place becomes another gradually or immediately or maybe something or somehow in between. Everything is the same and everything is different and sometimes that is just by a little bit–little by little–until everything is different. The geology, the plants, and animals–the rare raindrops scattered about on the playa surface attacking the bare earth in numbers so large the washes do not understand the burden they are about to hide beneath. This is the desert.
Coyotes laughing. Rats that are cannibals. Lizards that spit venom. Carnivorous insects — I wish!
This is transformation upon transformation. Metamorphosis.
Painful youth with poignant memories newly scarred, not forgotten, but pushed aside. Here, however, one may clear themselves of the entanglements others twist around us, to distract us, to hamper us. We grow within our chosen realities here.
Time is multidimensional and multidirectional. We have our own time and we are within our time and be inside and outside at the same time. Our time is our time and others try to take that time from you for themselves. Each falls into and overlaps with the others.
We learn to leave it all behind. Luckily enough, alone.
There is the final question, I calculate–Really?
It seems to be a thousand years, now.
Laughing coyotes, brotherhood.
Observe the puzzle pieces we are assembled of, each moment of us can be examined from each particle separate or in context within the pieces that are made up of groups of pieces in a gradient fabric made in context within those around us and without. The bighorn sheep are also gregarious beasts.
All the while, the desert is art.
Break it all into pieces and look at the pieces.
Possibly unnoticed, we change and become a different creature, a different being.
You have to grow. There is no choice if you indeed exist. There will be two paths and you will take one, however, even if you took the other path you would end up where the first would go; over there.
At least you know that if not directly, there will be some kind of connection between this way and that way over there. There is nothing that says you will end up better if you go one way or the other–one way is neither right nor wrong–possibly–you will, however, end up where you are meant to be. That can be a horrible shame.
And over there, either way, will be the same thing repeated, only in a slightly different light
August is the month of the long mornings. Starting before sunrise Sol burns the air to the east sending it here in thick slow-rolling waves. It is not at all unpleasant, the effect is comforting in its ambient beauty. Subtle. Sustained. There is a degree of perfection in this rounded nexus–a timelessness in time–in a singular day before the flat-heat whiteness begins. All of this is August, the month of long mornings.
Thin clouds of purest white streaked through the crystalline sky miles above the dune as it glistened and glittered in the morning’s golden sunlight. The ever-present wind swirled down out of its invisibility above grazing the crests of each swell placing a yellow halo at the crown of each and every rise. Soon, these phenomena broadened and covered everything leeward. Never just one grain but nearly an infinite amount of particles bouncing and flying over the top. The sandscape vibrating and flirting with focus and vision. Wave after wave, all as if it were applauding itself, this audience of at least trillions upon trillions upon trillions of its own. This is the way sand dunes travel and comfort themselves.
There is no apparent grand purpose other than subtle providence, yet, that is grand in itself.
After all the commotion, Bug, the darkling beetle, emerged from its hiding place an inch below the surface. Rat, arrived first, however, and it ate Bug. Then Hawk swirled down out of its invisibility high above in the crystal sky and snatched Rat with bloody talons.
Rat knew he had come to his end, for all rats die as does everything else that lives. Rat was pleased that it was Hawk that would consume him. Coyote or Snake would not honor him with such an aerial showing of the vast world he lived in before he was killed.
They were brothers, airborne, spiraling to earth together. Brothers as brothers can be they remained brothers until they splashed on the divide together and one rolled to the desert and one, the larger of the two, rolled toward the sea. That large raindrop would do fine, however, the small one would have to find its own ocean. Until then the little raindrop did what most other raindrops do and that is to fall.
At this point, many raindrops would soak into the earth joining the stormwater underground. These rainshadow renegades would travel to the aquifers deep into the earth below to ancient, private, and murky waters.
From sticks and dead leaves and rocks and out of crevices other little raindrops dripped to trickle together in intricate alpine streams hastily making way through a myriad of delicate and fragile waterfalls, into pools, then resting a few moments before being pushed out by the increasing deluge behind them.
From these streams to creeks the raindrops gathered rushing rather blindly through boulders and fallen trees in the narrow canyon joined by other smaller canyons and joining itself to larger creeks coming from larger canyons until swirling and twisting, colored with mud and dirty foam, all of a sudden coming together to become a river.
“Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice,” thought the little raindrop. It had found its way–to a river that should by all accounts transport it to the sea.
That didn’t happen, though. The river fell into the quicksands and disappeared into an eerie underworld layered below the clouded skies, under the sands of the empty river, and above the dark and mysterious aquifer.
Later, there was the bright and sunny sky overhead when the raindrop, risking evaporation, surfaced for a breath then soaked back into the safety of the shallows.
Again and one more time again this happened. Finally, there is no finally. The little raindrop simply never came back. After all, it was just a raindrop…
I like to watch the very end of the day–the last slivers of light seen while everyone has gone home to have their dinner and watch the television. Those last shreds of light must be mine, at least as far as my eyes can see. I see how lovely this light is, nearly, nearly an invisible veil as shear as color. There are final bits of sunlight delicately pulled away from jagged edges in order to begin the evening properly. And here, especially where rainbows once beautiful and bold, now faded and wicked, tear the low light trying to hold on to the day, these olden days past . . .
Sometimes you get out there to do what you do whatever it is you do when you are there but it just doesn’t look real and something is not quite right. Well, you are correct because nothing is quite right or real 100%, but what are you going to do? Cry?
Someday, I imagine, all beautiful things will have been worn away and become mundane and undesirable to view. Then, I imagine all the ugly things will become unique and beautiful because they are different and exciting to look at. I imagine.
The scribbled road escapes through a broken gate tearing across the rumpled and scratchy desert. Zig-zag hastily along the narrow, dusty trail. Go beyond the rise, and disappear, then disappear again into the far horizon and the dull gray-white skies of this heartless Mojave winter . . .
Mike was alone now. It was just him and the wind in the desert. He wasn’t scared. He would listen to Nature. It would speak to him–tell him what he needed to do. In fact, the wind was trying to touch base with Mike at that very moment. It was saying, “Hey Mike? Mike? Can you hear me, Mike? Mike?” Mike, however, was preoccupied with trying to get a signal. Without water or shelter, Mike was a goner. Too bad for Mike.
It is the strangest thing; the river; I follow it downstream and it becomes smaller and smaller and smaller. With every step, it becomes less and less and less. The water diminishes and depletes until it is just a trickle, until a glisten, until just a wet spot surrounded by damp sand, and then nothing. That is how this river ends–not mightily at an ocean, but quietly, subdued in the sand and rubble and stone becoming as if it never were.
I believe it misleading when looking out over the broad plains and shallow valleys; that it appears nearly lifeless. This, however, is how survival looks. A lot is going on out there; birds, lizards, rats, rabbits, and snakes. It depends on the season. Some varmints only come out at night. All come out to eat–some to be eaten. The tussles and killings are kept discrete and as quiet as possible so as not to disturb the next meal, now searching for its food in the crevices between the rocks and hollows of the cactus plants. Every single thing dies. Out there, every single thing dies bravely, without fear–we imagine.
This is Lake Tuendae (to be beheld) at the Desert Studies Center, Zzyzx. In the center of the lake is an island with a fountain. The name of the island in Enrico Caruso Island.
Enrico Caruso Island is named Enrico Caruso Island in honor of Enrico Caruso but not Enrico Caruso the famous singer but the Enrico Caruso who built Enrico Caruso Island was named for the legendary Enrico Caruso and named it Enrico Caruso Island for himself.
– I went to throw myself into the desert sea; to find isolation and solitude between the swells of the earth waves and shifting light. Day to night, and night, and night and in the echo of the evening, the storm calmed and the ocean went flat. At critical mass, the moon shifted the tide and the underpinnings, the secret work in preparation for the next day had begun.
Playas, dry lakes, they hypnotize me. Flat and dry and scarred but still pure. Hardened earth and soft skies. An elegant monotony that locks in on whatever lobe in my brain it is that controls my fascination for seeking a niche, an edge, a flaw as my eye draws up to, in this specific case, a dark and slivered horizon. Few words. Clear and open thought. Appreciation. I clap my hands. The sound dissipates and the ever so slight vibrations go on endlessly.