Academic journal article Chicago Review

My Desert

Academic journal article Chicago Review

My Desert

Article excerpt

1.

But the Sahara isn't all sand

bare-scrubbed plains, barren

soil, thorn, broken stone,

gravel shimmering ocher and dun

Dunes the color of honey, wind sculpted

ruffles and flutes, a knife edge to leeward,

a hundred feet high

Tied dunes, echo dunes, barchans, seifs

parabolic blowout dunes, transverse dunes, sigmoidal

dunes, sand seas' shifting shapes

(quartz ground fine as flour, powdered sugar)

Mountains with hills of their own

on their backs, the shifting and chaotic

desert topology

2.

Tents tuck against the heaving waves,

they live in a curtain of sand

(wind shadows on the lee of small hills)

Put your ear to the ground when the dunes

are coming, a sound below the threshold of sound

(nothing but wind whispering in the inner ear)

Sands hiss in the sweet still night, dunes move

by jumping, shifting as wind shifts,

traction and creep and saltation

Earth is made sky and the horizon disappears

Dunes smoke in a low-pitched drumming

(the Sahara always moving, never

and always the same)

3. …

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