by Greg Gregory

The sun is sinking over this expanse of undulating desert.
We pull into a familiar motel near Barstow for the night,
driving to visit my wife's sister & brother in Arizona.
We have done this for years, before her parents died.

The sun stretches our clay-colored building
into shadows on empty sand as it finally sets,
then erases them as well. We are here, but invisible.
Death Valley waits just to the north of us.

I once visited there, stunned by my first sight
of the dunes as the sun lowered. They crept diaphanous
in the fading light, in sage-laden breezes, intricately
winding into each other into the twilight.

The bedside alarm clock ticks.
A little fine sand sifts in from the window's edges.
It forms small dunes on the sill. I brush them away
and crack open the window to let in the cool night air.

The alarm clock glows, and I drift off. The dunes
drift back, beautiful. They persist, tangible souls
still wandering the desert. they travel, ephemeral,
winding into each other.

Half asleep
she folds her arm around me.
A scent of sage drifts in from the open window.

Previously published on the California Quarterly website.


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