Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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To My Hips, Both Removed

Near the Air Force base in Tucson, the boneyard
stretches for miles, mothballed warplanes

parked wing tip to wing tip in the desert.
Abandoned and ransacked, cannibalized

for fishhooks and Chevy fenders. Of course
boneyard makes me think of you two, incinerated

by now, back in Michigan. I’m recovering from the loss
of you, my days play out counting lizards and their shadows.

The saguaros hum with patience, waiting fifty years
to grow arms. The night-blooming cereus bides

her time to bloom just once before dying.
The desert is a harsh home. The devil’s claw

knows it, creeping forward on thorny elbows,
survivor gasping for water. We prop the hood up

on our rental car at night so pack rats don’t settle in.
And once, it would have been enough

to know there are species of fish who live here,
perennials—bonytail chub, r­­azorback sucker—

resting and riding out the hard season. But
you have surprised me, the way truth can. You

let me down—collapsed like the biohazard
waste you’ve become—and the truth?

I miss you. Like the flyboy misses his B-52.
The cereus doesn’t in fact die, she breaks just once

into flower, that alluring perfume, and goes back
to being a brown stalk in the desert. Nothing lasts.

Hummingbirds rappel down the palo verde trees
above loose-jointed cholla. And still the cactus wren

thrives inside thorns, and although the fire-tipped ocotillo
lifts its barbed arms to the sky, it does not surrender.  

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