I share with you a poem by a Tucson artist about the Sonoran Desert.
soy lo que me enseñó mi padre:
él que no quiere a su patria,
no quiere a su madre.
– Residente of Calle 13
I believe in the setting sun behind mountain.
I believe in the surface beneath me.
I believe in the roots of an ocotillo, tangled
to the core. I believe in brooks and streams,
even as they dry. I believe in small hands,
which try to cup everything possible
before it drips away. I believe in dust devils
and their unison with sandstorms.
I believe in footprints left behind
I believe in the eyes of a lover, in the silence
of their shudders, lying there, a part of my body,
becoming dust and tierra, dissolving into ritual.
Night stars bending into the cursive,
writing the music of the desert;
a tempo of solitude.
Una melodía for the day to come.
And I drink pulque
para bailar con los coyotes.
Dancing to the sand shifting
beneath my feet; to the gods
in the swing of my waist;
to the love that leaves my
I believe in the desert and her beauty,
I believe in the shadows that follow our every move,
I believe there will always be a song being born
in our chests; I believe I will die this way:
Praying for the wandering soles
and dancing for the rain.
I believe in the sanctity and sorrow of this land,
I believe in the beautiful faces and their cursed tongues,
I believe in the sleep stories of times before the border.
Creo en lo que hay y lo que habrá.
I believe in the holy cacti that watch
over las casitas of Tucson,
I believe in the sacred wind and
in the saints hanging from my neck.
I believe I am an unfulfilled dream;
I believe I am the Santa Cruz River
healing the scars of an entire city
as holy water pours from the sky.
I believe in all of the sleeping magic of the desert.
And I believe you cannot buy the wind.
No puedes comprar el sol.
You cannot buy the rain.
No puedes comprar el calor.
You cannot buy the clouds.
No puedes comprar los colores.
You cannot buy my happiness
ni mis dolores.
They belong here.
I believe this is my home, this land
of two suns, of two tongues,
of too many names lost crossing,
of too many souls who become
sand tears y polvo de magia.
I believe when I die, I will not perish.
I believe when I die, I will become
another song, tune, chant, poem
story; another pair of eyes,
another fist raised;
I believe when I die, I will live on
I read this poem yesterday and I thought it was so beautiful. It reminded me of home in the Sonora: the colors, the plants, the specters of life and death, the culture, the border…
I can go on. I think back to when we found dozens of humans remains in the desert and how their lives were welcomed into ours, and they lived forever. What life needs me here? I wish I had learned more about the Mojave desert before now, when we don’t have internet to research it. I am going to spend my time here studying Mojave by reading books about it and being here living in it. I look around at this desert and the houses in it and I think of Las Vegas, and I think of Brendon Urie and Brandon Flowers. I am limited. I want to know more. What do I not know about Mojave? What do I not know about the life, the suffering, and the happiness that has moved through here?
We have our imaginations and pre-narratives of places, but we never actually know the diversity and mystery of a place until we live in it. We are in a desert which we have been taught is hot and dry and miserable, but it has been so windy that I need a jacket and the weather is so cool that I spend more time outside than inside, and we don’t typically use all our ration of water. We have been taught that the desert is the middle of “nowhere” but this place is alive, and I am surviving in it. Water is scarce, but we are resilient
like the desert.