Desiccated

I write of only 3%
of the landscape
around me —
the green trees
colorful flowers
amazingly adaptive
dryland wildlife
and blind myself
to the rest of it —
but it’s time
to take a good look
and acknowledge
my selective seeing —
the 97% is dull
barren, stark, harsh, hot
out my bedroom window
there is a plain brown
block walled fence, my
neighbor’s white-metal
shed roof, off of which
glares the sun so brightly
it’s blinding, not a speck
of green in sight, except
one small weed emerging
from dusty gray rocks —
yes, there is a lizard
on the wall, doing push-ups
in the morning sun
and I watch him
with fascination
awed with nature
I forget the surrounding
urban desert ugliness —
until suddenly I wonder
where will he get
his next water?
surely from someone’s
yard watering system
but where do we  get
that precious water
for our thirsty homes?
and how much longer
will we be fortunate
enough to have it?
our city and county
allow so much over-
development, it feels
as if they are slowly
killing us, overcrowding
us, not caring about
our quality of life
nor the lizard’s —
but maybe, just maybe
we Phoenicians are
simply outright foolish
for trying to live here
in our air-conditioned
fortresses while the
city dries up around us

—Terri Guillemets

Poems that stick with me

Watering the hibiscus
this afternoon —
its weary
parched-green leaves
wilting
in this too-early April heat —
I saw a gecko
who
climbed up the side
of the splintering planter box.

My first split-second
thought —
Alice Walker’s garden gecko.
Crouching,
perfectly still —
the both of us —
I stared at it
and took in
the wonder
of it all.

It didn’t move —
was it asking
for some water?

This bliss,
it was my Paradise.
Gray, rough-coated
nature —
staring right back at me
a foot from my face.

Slowly I moved the hose
just an inch in its direction.
Walker — I’d already
named it Walker —
disappeared so fast
I didn’t even see
it go.

I wish it would’ve stayed.
I had water to give
and troubles
to wash clean.

—Terri Guillemets

referencing my favorite Alice Walker poem — her 2011 “Going Out to the Garden,” in The World Will Follow Joy: Turning Madness Into Flowers, 2013 — alicewalkersgarden.com/2013/05/poem-going-out-to-the-garden

Springtime sky & no reason why

Have you ever seen anything more beautiful
      than a heavy dark-silver cloud
      taking up half the sky
      ready to lavish the gift of rain
      unto the waiting earth —
      than huge wandering clouds
      marbled in every subtle shade of gray
      bordered with light and hope
      shifting and swirling every moment
      in a slow dance with the winds?

Have you ever felt anything as beautiful
      as the breeze on your face
      or that first, fat raindrop
      that falls on your head —
      as the sun caressing every inch of your flesh
      warming and calming you to the core?

Have you ever heard anything more beautiful
      than the wind in the palms, the pines,
      the cottonwood leaves and tall green trees —
      than the sound of merry birds singing
      or water trickling through a forest creek —
      than soul-shaking booming thunder
      filling the width and depth and height
      saturating with stunning sound
      the infinite and electrified sky?

Have you ever tasted anything as beautiful
      as pure, clear, cool water
      the essence of earth and life
      the most refreshing, primal elixir
      a quenching, flowing vitality
      the distinct taste in each satisfying sip
      of both nothing and everything —
      or the raw power of the earth
      in the layers of an onion
      the fresh energy of vibrant greens —
      or the sweetness of the earth
      in a dense crunchy colorful carrot
      or a perfectly ripe juicy berry
      staining your taste buds
      and delighting your soul?

Have you ever smelled anything so beautiful
      as orange blossoms in the nighttime air
      with a perfume more intoxicating
      than any other seduction —
      as a rejuvenating and serene pine forest
      with a thick carpet of aromatic green needles
      or the dust-earth smell before the rain comes —
      as salty, nourishing scents of the nearby ocean
      or invigorating crisp clean air of the mountains
      breathing so close to the fresh, free, blue sky —
      as the warm, exciting aroma of springtime
      giddy and green, flowery and pristine?

—Terri Guillemets