by Rachelle Bramly

Saguaro cacti, organ pipe cacti, prickly pear cacti–
they bloom too! Waxy white petals– 
those reds, pinks, yellows–
instead all I remember: tumbleweed: diaspore 
detached from root system

rolling in the hollow windstorm. Desperately
I broadcasted my plea, but
the desert went on without me. I–
dwelt within a concrete valley. 

lakes masked as oases
fake front lawns of rolled out sod
cars, homes, and malls –
it was easy to forget the desert.

It was impossible to forget the desert.
Purple sandstorms, dehydrated monsoons
heatstroke at the waterpark
a panic attack on the twelve-lane highway
Once, a coyote in a parking lot. 

I saw my first shooting star there
I saw the Phoenix Lights
I took sleeping pills during the day
& finally slept through the night.
It was a dreamless dream. When I awoke

sandstorms had sewn my eyes shut
stitched them at the seams. Sand
settled in my lungs, my nose–
pharynx & larynx coated thick–
I lost both my breath and my voice.

I did not see, I did not smell
the barrel cacti bloom. Or the cholla,
the brittlebush, the desert marigolds,
the scorpionweed–
I did not learn their names. I did not

speak their stories–what was there to tell?
Sometimes we imbibe best through memory
the heart follows suit and starts to yearn
to thirst with a sand-parched throat. Rawness
requires revisiting to maintain control. 

So I revisit. The evening primrose
the indigo bush, the blue palo verde –
I will return to you!
vast Sonoran Desert.
I will see your flowers.

Rachelle Bramly is a poet, multi-genre writer, performer, and visual artist currently residing on Lekwungen territory (Victoria, BC, Canada). Published in Beside the Point, Pearls, and Orato, Rachelle is inspired by grief, relationships, power, sexuality, food, her own interpretations of earth-based spirituality, and so much more. Follow her on Instagram @oaklune or @rachellebramly.