Desert Psalm By Anna María del Pilar Suben

Desert Psalm

The desert is soft and fragrant with creosote—

burnt matchhead mingled with honey.

Joshua trees crowd the landscape like city-dwellers

waiting for a bus, leaning into the wind,

arms outstretched, as in warrior pose.

The sky is matte and cloudless, forever-blue

diamond cornflower, melancholic azure,

permanence yearning to engulf, to devour.

I pick up a cigarette someone left for dead,

half-buried miniscule shipwreck smoked

down to its filter. There’s no outrunning:

even the Mojave isn’t immune to avarice.

Slow down your breathing, whispers a Joshua

doing a backbend. The air I hunger for,

the wish, the wanting—settles inside me,

next to the ghosts my mother breathed

into my bones a lifetime ago.

By Anna María del Pilar Suben


Anna María del Pilar Suben has worked as a contact tracer and social worker for people diagnosed with Covid-19. She received her BA from the University of Rochester, where she studied psychology and creative writing, and was awarded the Pearl Sperling Evans Prize by the Department of English.

Leave a Reply