LAURA IN THE SOUTHWEST
for Julia Leichman
She says she likes the colors: a carpet
of dried blood and sand unrolling
over three parched states.
She tells me it’s a holy place: the
vegetation contorted plants that supplicate
for years without the blessing of rain.
Her body is glare-white, though
not quite bone for there are shadows,
born only from flesh-fed pain,
laying in wait underneath the
wide expanse of her eyes.
She tells me she’s been dreaming
of driving to New Mexico in a blue
van, with people she has come to love but
has yet to meet, and
stopping with them at some desolate
point in the middle of that
I know when I see
her again she will be thinner still,
She is wasting away.
She tells me she’s just
planting the excess in the desert
in anticipation of floating home to me.
**winner of the 2005 Center for the American West Thompson Award for Western Writers***