I dreamed the PCT
For Six Thirty, who wanted another poem.
Tell me your perfect sunset and I’ll tell you mine.
I used to watch the paint drain,
brushes stacked like kindling
in the cold sink.
It’s natural for an artist to make color.
I dreamed I rubbed my palms together, wet and pink and clean.
You said the mountains were not meant for people,
too lifeless, too cold,
so it’s fair to say we never took each step
just glided on the white rock
You can’t taunt the hand of gravity.
I dreamed I could fly.
If there really was a desert, I’d fill it with the twisted brittle branches
I saw once before
in the deep yellow belly of the sun.
I might have stood among them,
arms raised, dancing;
we forget we are skeletons
until our starvation armor melts away.
Just before I woke up,
the woman from the Warner Springs Community Center appeared with a clipboard
and a face not her own.
Are you ready to stop walking? she asked, pen trembling in the air. Yes. Yes, how did you know, it has been so long. I am ready to escape the hot thumb that grinds me into the earth. I am ready to lift the cold from the night.
Then she asked what I’d learned
and I could not remember,
so I lifted my hands: a spiderweb of dirt
inlaid in the creases of my palm.
One last question, she said, clipboard wrapped in a bird-claw hand,
Did you follow your heart?
Did you search a strange valley,
ageless cliffs and
a lost calf moaning,
hands locked in a tangle of blackberries
until the hard red lines were wet with juice?
I dipped my gaze. I did.
Did it lead you to a chalk-black graveyard,
the lingering taste of disintegration
on the wind?
Did that excite you,
the story of a burn?
It did, it did.
I could not sleep for weeks.
did you trail your heart through the clouds
where the green shone like islands,
where the rain came again and again to say
the land will never give you
the softness you think you deserve?
I remember but I don’t.
Then tell me, she commanded,
where is your heart now?