First Night in the Desert by Theodosia Henney


We have not yet learned to sleep close

for warmth, to pile debris and pine duff for bedding;

we are fitful, cold, hugging bare dirt,

hands folded beneath our heads.


Above, juniper branches appear liquid

in silver moonlight, spindly carved shapes

like spiders, forked tongues

of many small rivers netting the land,

a jostle of snakes or bird wings.


We have not yet learned to rise

before the sun and walk to water.


We are strange here, and lost,

still thinking we cross over

the land as a river bridge,

as though we might reach

the far bank at any moment.


We do not yet know

we are in the current, swimming.