The four-fingered hand on the map
duplicates the same brown mountain range†
we observe with tourist awe,
as we begin our steep descent
into the dried river bed
between index and middle.
While we rest, the rising sun
slides shadows of rocks,
transforms forms like clouds
from profiles of ancient patriarchs
to heavy-bosomed fecund goddesses.
Some of this is seen
through the ring of my canteen†
while we exchange desert legends
on the clinging of thorns to cliffs†
like ancient mountain climbers.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
The desert breeds monotheists,
someone suggested in a seminar on Job.
Thirty years later, in these mountains, I add††
sculptors, artists, poets.
No matter what Aristotle says,
the statues the desert forms†
of its very will, are imitations of their own:†
the salt melting through the mountains
after rains, boulders slipping
from cliffs with the drying of the sun.
That old man, le
observing our little caravan from his mighty†
height and incredible size, reminds me,
absurdly, of Chagall (Rorschach†
ink blots, the ancient skeptic inside†
whispers: the mindís need to hum
abstract phenomena).† No!† See that enormous foot,†
the rivulets defining each tendon!† And over there
the lion rising from the sand, tensing supple thighs
into a leap, north to
The sky above†
is only backdrop,
a blue sheet
hung up as foil.