Tilted, the landscape becomes an aged face
biting the bruised peach sky.
This desert is all teeth: cancrum oris over wrinkles
of sand, limestone grimace—
or snarl? Children pick
between her canines, sticking
in cracks like fruit pulp.
Tourists cling to her gums, climb mouthward and throw up
the peace sign. Wide grin, camera flash.
I burrow into warm pores, make holes
& bury trinkets: mood ring,
toy car, tiny plastic
Under the sand: limestone, calcrete.
Under the sand: root tissue, silt, a pulse.
In school I’ve seen her captured, laid out
on a page & defanged, stripped of jawbone. But here in the heat of it
there is a fear, the wild notion
that I might be swallowed.
From the picnic table I watch shadows
flood her hard palate. Her great
& ancient tongue unrolling.
What does the desert eat? I push
my plate away and everybody laughs.
But I can see her behind them,
straining to lick clouds from the lychee moon.
1 August 2017