Desiccant Perspective | Megan Duffy

Desiccant Perspective | Megan Duffy

23 miles from the apartment at least,
above the stucco-lined labyrinth
of 24-hour massage parlors and payday
loan offices, the desert sky scrapes
its massive weight across a neighborhood
I’ve never been before, but recognize regardless.

It must be the mountains.
Those constant hulking waypoints
that cradle the southwest
with their indifferent familiarity.
One by one across the horizon line
their jagged peaks strain,
jutting proudly into the atmosphere
like hunters’ spears into
a great boar’s belly, desperate
to claim even the smallest inch,
a jeweled droplet of glory.

Meanwhile the streets below belch
their waste upward to chase off
the clouds, pedestrians raise their phones
and gather crude snapshots
of the impossible palette of color overhead,
posting and sharing within minutes,
harboring a skewed sense of pride.
All of us dogs begging for a leftover scrap of heaven.

In the half light of the early sunset
I study the centimeters of a baby scorpion
as it struggles up the wall of a CVS,
as black and weightless as a fallen eyelash
on a pillow, light enough to be swept away
by the smallest breath. I marvel at how unlikely he is,
how narrow his chances are,
and think that you are not unlike him,
a small scampering creature
under a canopy of wild color
with the knee of the world pressed
firmly on your chest, the cruel Mohave
wind leaving remnants of itself in your hair-
cactus needles and red clay,
the dust of crushed animal bones.

From the scorpion’s perspective
the raised patterns in the stucco he climbs
must seem like mountains.
And so he is not struggling,
but conquering-
and so athirst you will set off
and scrape mountain dust from your feet.

Megan Duffy is a Michigan born poet currently living and working in Las Vegas, Nevada. She studied creative writing at the College of Southern Nevada and in the annual Marge Piercy Intensive Poetry Workshop. Her work has been widely circulated locally.