Sonoran Desert Soliloquy


You're hiking in the desert, footsteps crunching as you pass beneath the tall arms of a saguaro and skirt a thicket of prickly pear aglow with yellow blossoms, thinking about how you've come to be in such a beautiful but unforgiving place alone, trying to come to terms with the breakup of your marriage, a marriage which came late in life, at the age of 42, because you kept holding out for a perfection that doesn't exist, and how you couldn't conceive the child you'd always wanted because after 'I do' your husband started saying 'I don't'—I don't like dogs, I don't want kids, I don't need a vacation—just repeating negatives over and over until you no longer heard them, till the day fifteen years later when he said 'I don't think I love you after all' and your answer echoed with 'I don't want you anymore' and you left, coming here to wander among cactus and creosote where sharp danger doesn't hide under a misleading disguise, but bares its needles and thorns in plain sight, and you sigh with relief, knowing pain can be avoided by keeping your eyes open and watching your step, only just then a cactus wren flits onto an ocotillo, causing the branch to sway like a green taper with red flame flowers, which distracts you, and the next thing you know, you're falling, your foot in a hole—the den of some desert creature—while your body keeps trying to move forward, and there's a snap which reminds you of dry wood cracking as your ankle breaks under the strain, so that you find yourself prone on the ground with a face full of gravel and a bundle of two-inch spines in your cheek where you've landed in the embrace of a teddy bear cholla ('cause they look so cute and fuzzy until you get real close, explained the ranger back at the park entrance), and the pain that shoots up your leg is insistent, as is the side of your face burning with a hundred pinpricks, confusing you about which to address first until you move your arm and dislodge the single long spine that has pushed itself far into an artery there, and now you tell yourself you should take your bandanna and make a tourniquet to stop the blood spurting with every heartbeat, but the shock of this moment brings an epiphany and you see what you have become—alone, childless, unloved:  imperfect—and the realization keeps you from moving, so that all you can do is watch the blood pour out and pool on the desert pavement, feeling the steady throb from your ankle, when you decide it is probably better this way, better than a lingering death from dehydration, better than a slow crawl through life with none of your expectations met, so you just lie there and watch the vultures soaring overhead, tracing lazy circles, and wonder how it will feel to join their perfect spirals.  
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