What Endures

As published in Pleiades Spring 2024, "On Disability" special folio

Only the hundredth time this summer 

I’m on the verge of giving up when 

I see the evening sky reft in two—

west sun-stamped, radiant white, 

east low-lidded, monsoon-bruised,

the pines struck brilliant, their bark

loam-dark and rust-rutted, each cleft 

weeping musk of damp resin,

needles threaded with rain's lucent beads, 

light shattered over every thrust of green,

limbs lichen-starred, a constellatory map 

of life clinging to whatever will endure 

the desert's scorch and swelter, abide 

until the ionized hush of summer's bated breath 

exhales in a gust of split-seamed clouds

slaking withered root and parched creek, 

exorcizing phantom currents of 

swept dust and spent leaves, 

showering through the open window 

where I wait, face pressed to the screen, 

for anything that might convince me to

hold fast as that lichen, stitch myself 

to life with the most tenuous of threads:

raw scrape of blown water, sun’s last spark 

caught in everything the storm touches,

a hundred cold stars burning on my brow.