Rusty dust rises to our ankles, kicked up by
sneakers on the long trail behind his house,
into the reserve for desert tortoises.
Nine am sun already stole dampness from my hair,
bone dry and frizzy on my shoulders.
All around us rose the martian colors
in the tanned, wrinkled faces of ancient mountains,
below us fell the dozens of new developments,
Family homes with identical walls
of taupe, crimson, or sienna-
nestled under the cliffs.
An hour passed, and between us the careful
conversations of two cautious strangers with
common love of one woman- as mother or wife.
Prickly pears’ spikes along the sandy path bit
the hem of my dress, ground sprinkled with
stones of inky black, propelled from miles underground
when these volcanoes still had breath.
Clouds like cream swirled in cerulean coffee sky,
make no attempt to conceal tyrant sun’s rays,
much to the zebra tailed lizard’s delight.
When the trail narrowed between rocks and cacti
and we could no longer pace shoulder to shoulder,
he lets me walk ahead.
When we return home, my mother
meets us with duplicate welcome- for each of us
the sanctity of a cool water glass- transparent, pure-
and a greeting with the same pet name,
“honey,” while we work until
laces are untied, glasses are emptied.
Solitary under the sound of bathtub’s flow,
I peel my socks off to rinse the grit
from between my toes, watch goldenrod swirls
overtake the ceramic’s white. I contemplate my mother’s
words- and that sweet, sticky gift from the bees,
how it binds.