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.


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