The wind has died down to be followed by cold; I had to bring all the potted flowers inside again with a freeze forecast for tonight. I welcome wild weather, but would like to be able to put my pots outside where I want them and to leave them there. I have always preferred to live halfway outdoors, the boundary of outside and inside thin, variable, never too firm.
Sun low and angled penetrates dirty windows. Cleaning is a worthless task when I naturally want the doors and windows open. The house is a rest stop for waves of clay and sand that drop in as invited guests. A sealed building, no windows open; the air stale, recycled and intensified year after year, offer no escape from the smell of artificial man. These are the places that exist to prove one thing:
God said that we must be punished, but he’s not around most of the time to do it; there are so many of us that it’s become quite a job, so we’ll have to punish ourselves. We are good children; we are obedient; we are civilized.
When I was a little girl, I refused to enter certain houses. It was the smell that repelled me: old rugs, pet urine, strange simmering food, ripe bodies drenched in perfumes, the air misted by canned “deodorizer” – unsuccessfully. A scared animal, I stood trembling at the door, fingers on the door, staying close to the door: THE DOOR, which should I panic, would release me into the yard, onto the sidewalk – a child’s super highway to anywhere; run away.
The desert doesn’t smell, but in the evening, walking, there will be a whiff, a hint of a flower, nearby, calling to insects nearby. Dragged along by noses that scour the ground, the dogs zigzag; halting to sift the dusty mix of spent droppings, tiny footprints, wild stallion pyramids, carcasses of birds.
They never stop sampling the world for treasure.
Being bipedal, I see the rabbit before they do, mere feet from their tense bodies, obsessed bodies. To the dogs it is invisible, unless it moves, if not, they resume their nose-down zigzag, the rabbit impossibly still, its nose moving so slightly, big eyes frozen, as if staring at me. At the perfect instant, it will run, the dogs frantic, howling, insane: a few yards and the rabbit makes one left turn, banking on one-trick survival. It always works.
At home, the dogs go on with the chase, on the floor, dreaming, twitching, as night drops around us, the clock ticking, me restless, wandering to the door, blue night shedding the world. Familiar trees turn black, branching like watercourses, the night deep and dark with sensation, distance, highways, trucks downshifting, trains being made up roughly at the yards – a male place in this feminine desert.
A confident place; the diesels pushing and pulling cargo through town, unrestrained by the forces of light or dark, to stretch across the desert hills like the Great Wall of China on the move.
Wild horses graze their way to the river and back every day…
The line between land and sky could be drawn by a child with one crayon, but she could never complete a hillside of a thousand yellows. Remove one leaf, one stone, one clump of bunch grass, one acid spray of rabbit brush, one velvet dart, one candelabra of cactus, one dark gathering of sage, or one patch of last year’s lichen on a stone, and the Yellow World dissolves.