Watch But Don’t Touch

Mohave Desert Scene with Joshua Tree in Foreground

Yesterday I did a search for poems about the desert and came up with a winner. “Desert” was written by Josephine Miles way back in 1934, but it has a contemporary feel. One thing for sure: There are no tree huggers in the desert, what with all the spiny plants. Moreover, the ground itself is unfriendly, full of sharp stones. The only thing Miles leaves out is the wind-blown dust.

When with the skin you do acknowledge drought,
 The dry in the voice, the lightness of feet, the fine
 Flake of the heat at every level line;

 When with the hand you learn to touch without
 Surprise the spine for the leaf, the prickled petal,
 The stone scorched in the shine, and the wood brittle;

 Then where the pipe drips and the fronds sprout
 And the foot-square forest of clover blooms in sand,
 You will lean and watch, but never touch with your hand.