That first summer in the desert liked to have killed me. The hot, dry air sucked all the moisture right out of my body; I was as light and thin as a piece of tissue paper. I feared I would blow away at the slightest breeze, but there wasn't any to test that theory. From the road, the desert looks as wide and easy to read as an open book; on foot, the words are sharp little ridges of rock, twisting and curving around canyons of sand that shift and steal away what few landmarks there are. I learned to place myself in time and space with every step, lest my bones join the small animal ones that litter the ground, bleached and preserved, lost to eternity.
In autumn, I learned that I was made of sterner stuff. I leaned into the hot dry winds that swept through the arroyos and scoured them into new shapes; the very precariousness of my position kept me upright. As the winter winds turned colder, I leaned harder. They boxed my ears and made them ache; the burning of my ears was the only warmth left in the world. At last, the rains came. They silenced the wind, coming down so hard that the water bounced back off the face of the desert, even as she frantically sucked it in. Water soaked into her pores, filled her wrinkles, and overran them in raging rivers in the space of a few hours.
When the rains stopped, the turbulent waters gave way to slow moving reddish-brown streams, and then dried up altogether, leaving nothing but cracked earth where they had been. As she assimilated it, a fine green film began to spread across the desert, swirling here and there, and the tiniest of flowers sparkled like gold dust. The air was soft and easy to breathe. We were blooming.
© 2007 Cynthia Newcomer Daniel
Gold filled, lampwork by Glass & Splinters Lampwork, freshwater pearls, vermeil. Hand fabricated.