From whence

Nicole asked me if I missed the desert.
How can I miss it when I carry it inside of me?

Strangers to Southern Arizona lament the absence of green,
But the brown is beautiful.
I know the colors of the dirt. The veins of clay. Volcanic and sedimentary rocks that read like storybooks. The mountainous skylines that act like navigational tools. Arroyos that lay in wait for monsoon surges.

Picacho Peak. Finger Rock. Elephant Head. Washington Camp. Tetakawi.

Elevation changes from Tucson to Nogales marked by saguaros and mesquite bosque. The lifeline of the Santa Cruz River driven underground but lined by Cottonwood trees.

The desert of a little girl who kept quiet in the back seat of car rides and memorized every bump on I-19 and I-10.

The desert of a little girl who asked about every crop on every farm that abutted the frontage roads.

I don’t even know what the color of the dirt is in NYC. I am a foreigner here, speaking a language that no one else can understand. My throat aches to repeat the words like a spell.

To speak the desert and to be understood.

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