Two Poems by Carla McGill



This time I leave the circling
freeways of Los Angeles,
head the other way
toward the burnt land of Arizona,
the bare and intentional road
straightening out into the desert.

Space leads to more space
and it is time for new thoughts.
Parched lands harden into multiplying horizons.
Saluting cactus plants, shriveled snake skins;
beneath the desolation
essences brood.

The air changes to gold, to red,
threatens to ignite,
boundaries dissolve into vapors.
I have come across perplexities,
and found that mysteries
can sometimes be opened.

Desert questions.
One answer is, the parched land lives.
Unwashed, the scorched miles
are not forsaken. Hidden there,
thirst, and in the thirst,
the memory of rain.


Stretch of blue, bleached,
above the hawk. Just under
the plane, crossing canyons
in deliberate course, the red
and gold of Indian blankets.

To the right, bronze hills,
cows swatting chaotic flies.
To the left, a train.
The plane is headed west
out over the Pacific. Plow
to market, well to faucet,
pow-wow to conference
encompassed in sparkle
of glass. How far is it
to the place we try to find?

The exit and eventually the ocean.
Park, step out, breathe.
Breezes sweep against me like mysteries,
the sand a primitive emanation of tan.

And then, traces of original hope,
something important and wise,
shining through the clouds.
Here it is, the end of the western dream,
a liquid sapphire, an immense bowl
of creation. The plane has disappeared
and the hawk. I am in a dream of blue.



about the author:

I earned my B.A. in English from California State University, San Bernardino, and my M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside. My work has been published in A Clean Well-Lighted Place, Shark Reef, Crack the Spine, Westview, Common Ground Review and Inland Empire Magazine. I have work forthcoming in Caveat Lector. As a member of the Poetry Society of the Huntington Library from 1991–2012, my poems have appeared in three of the group’s chapbooks: Garden Lyrics, Huntington Lyrics, and California Lyrics. I write poetry, fiction, and am working on a novel and stage play.

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  1. Before and After the Fall |
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