James Grinwis The 2River View, 7.1 (Fall 2002)


It’s the greatest desert in North America
as well as the smallest canine ever.
I was hiking the rim of it and when
it belched, a dust storm curled out of
the fathoms. At home, I spend hours
sifting through newsprint,
and folding magazine articles
into paper animals. Chihuahuas
are buoyant in desert environments,
almost like fennec fox—
however, I don't know what the word means.
It could mean smudge, or ice,
or moonstone; something particular
about the desert. Here,
the snow rocks off the shingles
and hits the sidewalk like a belt of teeth.
Sheepdogs and Samoyds fit the north
like oil fits crankshafts, but they don't
smell as such. Out of a blizzard,
they’re huge, ambulatory skunk cabbages.
When the rain goes out of itself it leaves
wind or snow. Dust goes somewhere fast
then nowhere. Tracks in sand
sigh like ice-worms in spring. I was hiking
the rim of the Chihuahuan desert.
I’m not adapted to this environment.
A coyote glued herself to the shade
of a chulla plant. It’s like nailing
a needle with a toothpick. She stared
and opened her mouth. The dust storm
billowed somewhere south and missed us.
The silence fell like a sac of water.
Each step you lose some water.

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