Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Interior Perfection of the Mohave

Robert Bense
From Prairie Schooner, Vol. 85, No. 2 (Summer 2011)

Once familiar voices sighing
like company overheard
the lunatic Joshua-trees
and absolutes of sun and sand
say with the night wind chatter
where will you stay?

lines in sand, no roads
to answer to, washboard
weave, waves of an old seabed
over these bones
once making claims—and California
sliding into the sea again
how will you keep from the edge?

ghost flowers, race of night
lizards, vacant blisters of salt
scorpions hiding from the sun
sky shading with metallic reds
a route hidden deep
in the clarity of mirages
what will you see?

in rissoms of worn places
breeding holinesses, bleached
hues, faces of the prophetic
in dreams, entering as you are
this space of silences
a trial by fire and cold
how will you hear?

ears humming
emptiness, flesh chastised
and the voice you thought you
knew—and now cut loose
from its accent—
your eyes opening to
the moon’s wide circle
and a line moving in sand
toward you.