From Gretel Ehrlich



If an island is a place with sharp boundaries

a waterline with an edge between beginnings

and endings in its movement from sea to land

where exchanges occur

if an island draws lines that mark each of us

as unique, imposes discipline, shapes the movement

of thoughts yet stands for what occurs between


if people crave islands because within their

geographical limits we can expand and remind

ourselves of arrivals and departures


then why do I crave the desert, never an island

never even set foot on one?


Instead I seek the endless land, all solid and hot

dry vastness with only vague borders that melt

away at the horizon of shimmering heat waves

and infinite vistas, no water in sight, a place

absent movement and I a soul without identity.


I run away to an emptiness with no beginning

or end, where I am one with the ground on which

only the wind draws lines and my soul is marked

but not bridled, where the sun exacts a discipline

of water but I am free to wander within the limits

of a canteen

where the exchange is across the membrane of air

and space, light and dark

and there is no space between thoughts.


In that case, will I cease to think at all

Forget to come or go, shrink to mere existence

No front or back, only part of the landscape

Red rocks and canyons where I become lost

Blowing aimless, limitless, infinite?