Desert Romantic

Why do I go back to the places I’ve been?
To the places I have already mapped and frozen
In the well-behaved memory of film?
Why return when I can say ‘yes’
To ‘Have you ever?’

Because I know which trail ends on a cliff
Where the swallows dive and beckon,
And that after the deep-shade cottonwoods,
The river will bend south.

Because I have already seen the night sky here, both clear and cloudy,
Watched stars fall and planets rise.
Because I have walked many times on the ebbing sand, still damp,
And the rocks shimmering;
I have skipped over them lizard quick.

Because I have seen the prickly pear shout in yellow and pink,
And the claret cup in molten red,
And watched gray dusk hush them all.

Because Around smoking fires, and in the windy dark,
I have heard stories and told them.

Because I remember when tumbling clouds
Once poured over the sandstone spires,
Startled lightening into rain, and burst with
Cooler nights and flash floods.

I will go back, again,
Because I have been there before.

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