I am the desert
Throughout her poetry, Diane Siebert gives the desert the voice of a very old woman. She reminds us that the desert–and the earth itself–are living things. As you read the poem, ask yourself, “How can a desert be like a person?” Diane Siebert
I am the desert.
I am free
Come walk the sweeping face of me.
Through canyon eyes of sandstone red
I see the hawk, his wings outspread;
He sunward soars to block the light
And casts the shadow of his flight
Upon my vast and ancient face,
Whose deep arroyos boldly trace
The paths where sudden waters run-
Long streams of tears dried by the sun.
I feel the windstorm’s violent thrust;
I feel the sting of sand and dust
As bit by bit, and year by year,
New features on my face appear.
Great mountain ranges stretch for miles
To crease my face with frowns and smiles.
My lakes are dry and marked by tracks
Of zigging, zagging, long-eared jacks.
Dust devils swirl and slowly rise;
They whistle, whirling to the skies,
While tossed and blown in great stampedes
Are stumbling, bumbling tumbleweeds.
And as the desert seasons change,
The hands of Nature rearrange
My timeworn face with new designs
Of colors, shadows, shapes and lines:
In wintertime the north winds blow;
My mountain peaks are capped with snow;
But resting, waiting patiently
Beneath the frost that covers me,
I dream of spring, when I can wear
The blossoms of the prickly pear,
Along with flowers, wild and bright,
And butterflies in joyful flight.
My summer face is cracked and dry,
All blotched and flecked with alkali,
Until the coming of a storm
When thunderclouds above me form,
And bursting, send their rains to pound
Across my high, unyielding ground
Where walls of water grow, and flow
Toward my valleys far below.
But soon the blazing sun breaks through,
And then, beneath skies wide and blue,
My features shimmer, blurred by heat,
Till autumn breezes, cool and sweet,
Caress my face, now brown and burned,
To tell me autumn has returned,
To touch the land where coyotes prowl,
Where coyotes lift their heads and howl;
At night they sing their songs to me:
We are the desert.
We are free…
‘I am the desert’ Performance by Filipe Garcia; Music by Jaswart Sadha Barna & Shambhu Singh; Video by Ana Marques in Rajastan desert, Jaisalmer India