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33| Sunstroke

Andrea Janelle Dickens


I moved from eastern woods,
                    blue ridged mountains
crossed and crossed again with slippery creeks,
                              beds studded with stepping stones.
I came to this desert,
                    sun-streaked, sun-baked.
                                   All the world is flattened
as only the sun can do at high temps.

The valley of the sun stretches
                         until it dissolves at its edges.
The only depth to this world
                    is illusion: from the ripples that rise
                                        off straight and endless roads.

I thought I moved out here
                    to follow you, to fall into your arms,
the arms the sun burnished
                         to perfect balance of care and strength.
Sit side by side on a patio with wineglasses,
                              soak up purple and orange sunsets
while planning weekend getaways in California.
                                   I thought I came to watch
you stand like a saguaro, still, something majestic to behold,
straight-backed, listening, shading.

It lasted two weeks.
                    And then I was on my own,
                                   finding my own place
whose windows saw the moon rise
                         in the east, left sunsets to the imagination.
Myself, a desert jackrabbit,
               learning to scrape and survive among a new landscape.

Andrea Janelle Dickens is originally from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia and currently lives in Arizona, where she teaches in the Writing Programs at Arizona State University. Her work has won an award from New South Journal and has also been printed in Caesura, streetcake (UK), Ruminate, The Wayfarer and by Silver Birch Press. In her spare time, she is a ceramic artist, beekeeper and desert landscaper.

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