Early Morning in Mesquite Flat
Dawn rises hot, casting morning
so bright it sparks sharp
across the sand dunes,
each an excavation of passing night,
cut with the long belly-lines
of snakes hunting the dark.
Under a mesquite tree,
kangaroo-rat tracks meet
a serpent-curve in a thrash
of displaced erosion. Only the snake-line
slices away from the tree’s fine-boned
shadow. Out here, heat is rattlesnake-hungry,
biting against shade and satiation,
eating sky and sand until
they’re just as wanting. In 1931,
a movie crew found a miner’s corpse
near here, halfway between town and water,
compassed toward a spring he never
reached. Over the hill, that dead town
is time-eaten to a train station
and heaps of half-flat tin cans
taking on rust. A façade is all that’s left
of the newspaper building, blue hurting
behind empty windows.
Next-door sleeps the graveyard,
where ghosts of plaster and chicken wire
curve over absent bodies. One holds
the skeleton of a bicycle, head bent,
its paper mâché hollowness
only another kind of weight.
By Emily L. Pate
Emily L. Pate is a writer, avid traveler, and collector/over-sharer of bizarre facts. Born and raised in California, she holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Her poetry and travel writing have appeared in Funicular Magazine, Willawaw Journal, and The Northwest Passage, and Blending Magazine. She can be found at emilylpate.com.