The Desert Southwest Valentine's Day Massacre

The Desert Southwest Valentine’s Day Massacre 

The desert rots you. It blows a scorching breath that is thick with the stink of hot green tamales and destitute, desperate and dying things. It puts the heat on you and then keeps it on; it pricks you with the sting of cactus needles, makes you sweat rivers and then filches your sweat, makes you dry up like an old bone, summons the vultures to circle around in impatient loops overhead, the coyotes to howl in merriment at your certain demise, the fire ants to march out in long and well-disciplined military formations to find you, it turns you into a pile of bare bones to be bleached out below a merciless sun. The desert specializes in sucking the life out of the living; only those that have learned to hide out in deep holes and come out in the dark have learned to live with the desert. Rattlesnakes have it right, I think. Rattlesnakes have learned to live with the desert.

We are liquid and the desert is eternally thirsty. I am a lake and I am stuck here baking in it. Yes, I am a lake today. Tomorrow I may choose to be a river and flow through it, but today I am a lake and the sweat is steaming off me like vapor from a boiling pot. The desert is searing and it is boiling me down to my core elements: blood, sweat and tears; and soon these too will stew away to a mist and the last of me will float away, fuming. All that will be left will be the imprint that I leave in the dirt, a hollow that is crowded with cracked and baked hard crumbs of clay, a place where I once lay down and became liquid, liquefied and became human, became human and had the life simmered out of me by the heat. I am done with the desert today, but the desert is not done with me, it is still baking me, still taking from me whatever it can find that is left to take, looking for whatever marrow might remain inside my bones to devour. Fire ants are eating me from the inside out.

The desert is like love; and I am utterly and completely done with love. Love is not a battlefield, love is a desert, it is a burial ground, it is a place I go to die--Love always kills me. Tomorrow I might choose be a river and flow again, but today, I am a lake.

Donald Dean Mace

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