Sheila Black
Desert Life

Today I despise my own sincerity,
my face as in a photograph, clean-scrubbed,
hair gelled and combed. There must be some
irony here. I should wear odd earrings,
one long and dangling, the turquoise of
the macaw, the other flamingo pink, a small dot
like the light that sparks on the horizon.
In the evenings here darkness ascends,
scrub and strip mall swallowed by the violet mouth
of the night, which is oblivion, which is
desire, all those cars driving, passengers
immune to the hard land, fixed on the
sky, larger here than anywhere, so that it
is no surprise we feel little attachment to
the ragged pieces of this world, starved for the gods
of razors, needles, contraband carried
over the border lines, toxic crystals
that rush over you like sugar. Someone in a nearby
town today arrested for torturing four
neighbors, heating a metal spoon until it was
red hot, saying he would make them sing
the hymns they had forgotten. Who in such a place
could care for my small story, that I order
the clothes in my drawers by color, that I cook
the beans daily, picking over their shapes
for stones, afraid my children might break their teeth.