He trudged into the desert, taking almost
nothing with him but water and a ghost-
ly old photo
of a lady beside the ocean.
That first night,
he lay above a dry creek bed. Below,
he heard vipers moving through the sand
with a side-winding motion,
he did not sleep.
He’d grown obsessed with the notion
of walking deep
and deeper into the wilderness. By
the third day, his lips were swollen and dry.
Now he was completely isolated,
surrounded by a desert that dominated
with its glittering sand
not high above, a sky so huge and blue
that it scared him to look too long upon.
There was nothing new
now under his sun. By now, his water was gone.
Day five, he quit moving altogether
and sat instead for hours, with his photo and leather
flask, coughing in the cool valley of a dune,
watching the daytime moon,
gibbous and gorged, roll by like an eroded stone.
The sky was biblical. The sun was white as bone.
Finally, on the evening of his sixth day,
when his strength had all but slipped away,
a willowy woman in a white dress appeared.
She had long black hair, which stirred in the xeric
air, and though his eyes were watery and bleared,
he knew for certain who it was. And so
it was that she beckoned him. He rose, sure but slow,
up from the ferric
and rust-colored sand,
as if this is what he’d been waiting for all
leaving his shoes and other belongings
behind, he followed her into
the drifted dunes, beneath a sky of melting blue.
And that was it. Days later when they found his things,
they saw the photo half-buried in the sand.
It was a black-and-white of a black-
haired woman, very elegant, tall,
whose short life,
two years back,
had been eaten away in a strange
Patagonian land, below a mountain range.
That woman was his wife.