Desert Poem – Joshua Song

painting by catherine jennings

Joshua Song

I can still hear the ocean from the brush
a low hollow whirr, bent over blowing
on its back; a despicable thud coming from
deep, the caliche hums, secret reserve
water table bubbles, the desert awake
with the sound of rain – {finally} rain!
but the sand slaps back a symphony clap
hard from ten thousand nights rind dry
unaccustomed to moisture the desert resists
& the water is whisked off to lower ground
but down below, where the silt has drunk
its fill of ancient quench and slept for centuries
I can still hear the ocean, from the cacti
rinsed, swelling fruitful spines, barrel
rolled open the Joshua trees with arms
Spread out—sing the Mohave a lullaby
Like a wind chime, every drop a note
On their shingle pines; I can still hear
the ocean, from all that time ago

—ECW

 

Poem 65

a second draft. i’m unsure.the water and the wake

I remember oozing from the crack in her. She was a tree limb; she is a ship.
I can still recall the white milk spilling out across the sea. A ship with a
wooden mistress leading us starward; arms outstretched and I came
from the deepest hull where the water beat drum-desperation against her broad sides.
I remember clawing at the gravel and reaching the caliche. Fracturing
every fingernail on the desert backbone and wishing still there had been water.
I reminisced of coming up for air after swimming for centuries in blue-bleak
blackness and gritting my teeth with sand for sanctuaries. Oh pity.
How many years did I live under-sod before they unburied my bones?
How long can I hold my breath; waiting for the tide…
–ECW

Poem 25

It was the ocean that came to me
In a dream apologizing for unhappiness
With her own moon tides to blame
For the uneasy shore
There I weapt
With her
Searching my skin for answers
Finding only cruel aloe-d sunburns to pacify our melancholy
She calls to me from where I stand
—wherever the water goes—
Sending her best in rain and snow
Hoping these precipitative love-notes will be enough
She’s almost right, like an afternoon alone covered in sand
Wishing for another life;
                                    We all belong to the sea.
–ECW