The Temptation of Mirage
by Diane Lockward
Save your water and green vegetation.
What I want is the desert.
Keep your deciduous pines,
the solace of shade and shadows.
Give me starkness on the horizon,
predictability of beige and brown.
Let me suffer the heat and burn,
air so hot it undulates in sine waves,
and the illusion of water,
the levitation of lake.
Not one human for hundreds of miles,
eternity of sand, an open-air coffin.
Everything fixed and final,
except the night-blooming cereus,
its creamy petals like white silk,
Cinderella in the desert,
narcotic fragrance of the skin,
sweet, juicy pulp of the fruit,
red as a splash of blood,
for one night only, quench of beauty
more real than I can bear,
closed forever by morning sun.