Posts Tagged ‘Rachel Kellum’




Rachel and I walk the dirt track

around and around—there are

goat heads in bloom, and she pauses

to notice how beautiful the small purple

flowers are before they become vicious

and sharp-toothed, hostile and harsh.

How much aggression begins as beauty?

I have no love for the goat heads, but

now, seeing them sprawling and soft,

I can’t help but bow to the paradox

that exists in everything, even these woman

who walk circles in the middle of the desert

just for the joy of walking together. Something

in them has  grown hardened and sharp.

They speak of it and weep and laugh. Something

in them softens into tiny lavender blooms.


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—for Rachel



between the cactus,

we walk, our conversation

daring to step wherever it wants

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This is what loneliness is like.
You spotted it on the side of the path,
scuttling under November’s dead grass.
What is that? you said.
It was small. Primitive.
Scorpion-like. A gray abdomen
and albino head, and ten segmented
albino legs, or were there really ten?
It moved so fast we could not count.
What is that? I said, in agreement
with you, knowing I could not identify
the thing. And why is it chasing me?
I said, half laughing, half terrified.
It can be so small, the things that scare us.
How I edged away to avoid the unknown.
How we laughed as I nearly sprinted away from the thing.
It kept running after me until at last it stopped,
reared up on its back legs and opened
its four tiny ruby tipped pincers.
How we gasped in, what, disgust?
Amazement? Fear laced with pleasure
in the newness of the thing?
The whole rest of our walk, it still followed
me in my mind. I thought of you
there in a town that is eating you alive.
I thought of love and how after forty years
we still don’t know what it means.
I thought of our shadows, how they
layered on top of each other against the walk
when we sat in the weak sun beside the dead roses.
I thought of how it lunged for my shadow,
that thing. How ugly it was. How I longed
to name it. Later, you called to tell me
it was a camel spider, not a spider
at all but a solpugid. Isn’t is strange
how we misname the things that frighten us
the most? You said that the small creatures
favor the dark, and they’re known for following
people to hide in their shadow. It was not
chasing me, but wanted reprieve from the light.
This is what loneliness is like. The camel spiders
seldom bite humans, you read, and if they do, they have
no venom. But still people are afraid.
Sometimes we surrender our loneliness
too quickly. I don’t know what I am saying.
I’m saying that they can be difficult, these days.

check out this crazy critter here: http://www.badspiderbites.com/camel-spider/

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She does not choose
the flat rocks, the ones
that might stack like bricks.

She chooses a slender volume
of gray sandstone, rounded
to a point on one side,

and balances it on the beach,
point side up. The next rock
is also a misshapen thing … not

at all a likely candidate
for balancing, much less on its edge,
but with gentle fingers

Rachel sets it on its knobbed
end and moves her hands away.
It is not at all straightforward.

What balances, balances
through patience and some odd grace,
and Rachel adds an egg shaped oval

rock into the notch at the top and backs away.
The pile miraculously stands.
Though I try to turn my mind

toward metaphors for love,
there is nothing to get here
except the pleasure of sitting

beside the river, the hatch
catching in our hair, stacking rocks
one on top of the other, one unlikely

sweet spot at a time before they all
fall down.

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