Ruth Nolan

FRONTIER THESIS

The famous architect, contemplating his biography—
he could build a comfortable house in hell
of cinderblock, sugary cubes accentuating the lines
between building and site, on a ledge of rocks
importing water that had once sustained an Indian tribe
from a mountain miles away to fill the pool, water the lawn
—Who would live in the desert without a pool?—
he admitted that the only reasons for building there
where every form of life sought shelter
during the unbearable daylight hours
were to let mad dogs and rich men go out in the midday sun
let them own and dominate a view they admired
not fitting the country, but challenging it.
This is the Garden of the World.

—after Wallace Stegner, from The American West As Living Space

OF THE MOJAVE

We danced, an unspooled star-vine
trumpeting white, iridescent
in blossom-step time
with dune primrose
trilled along the fluted ridge
of the shifting sand dune
in the short certainty of spring
I opened up, pure as a mirage
in the Devil’s Playground
the desire for water.
I wept, a fat thunderstorm
anguishing unto itself with relief
then nothing more. The hot wind.
Your love-mouth on my skin
remembered like lightning.

SUPER BLOOM

Compass Barrel cactus
crowning with yellow flowers
Belladonna, aka Jimson weed
blowing open their big to-do’s
in the shapes of ghost trombones
wagon trains heading west
searching for water-source
It might be someone’s birthday
it might be a day to dig someone’s grave
pound a cross into the ground
Orange poppies, soon to be state flower
exploding at the head of the pass.