Radium Springs [poem] by Sheila Black

Dry draw where the water
tastes of talc. He sets a trailer on a hill-
side and tells her it should feel like
home. He wants to raise horses—some
picture of flying feet and manes
whipping in desert wind. But really
he is uncomfortable riding, really he
leaves the stallion behind to dash against
the chicken wire fence and whinny for
the brood mares who carry his friends
docilely up and down the lower
trails. She will break apart the life
they have built the way you might drop
a coffee mug on a tile floor. Even though
it’s hopeless you still spend hours trying
to put the pieces together. One thing
this place has taught her—even talc-tasting
water can be enough to make an ocotillo
grow. There is the season of south wind
when the gray branches ratchet
like awkward arms, but the flowers when
they come are pure phoenix. Anything
ground down can rise again. Just look.

 

 

Image of 1930s Switchboard Operator

[Refer: This poem puts the editors in mind of Allie Marini Batts’ essay “My Life as a Cactus.”]

Sheila Black is the author of House of Bone, Love/Iraq, and Wen Kroy. She is a co-editor of Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, named a 2012 Notable Book for Adults by the American Library Association. A 2012 Witter Bynner Fellow, selected by Philip Levine, she lives in San Antonio, Texas where she directs Gemini Ink, a literary arts center.

 Image by Lon&Queta