A Letter To David In The Desert
I may see you, David, in the desert of your own making. Perhaps that comet has already hit, and the great clouds of red dust, of iridium, of sulfurous ocean bottom will plow up towards the shuddering sky, and all will be dark for a time.
But no. This is to you, David, in you red desert. You are not Gideon. You hold no stone in your open hands. You run the course and run, you sit in the gray cold (the same as your eyes). You stare out at the golden fields, watching the shadows roll in from the far treeline, the blue pines silent and existing, layered against the waning of day.
And David, I would see your desert. I would follow and follow, I would hold the comet until it burned my hands in order to save you from choking on the ringing dust blown up from the wounded earth. But David, would you ask these things of me?
No. No, not in any real sense, of day, of cold. Perhaps if we were to find one another in that great red desert, the one between the Old Cities, then you might, perchance, take my hand. And we might, under the tyranny of the red sun, travel the paths of the ancient sacrificial bulls and virgins, trekking to the far-off temple.
But the desert is a large place, David. A large place with mountains and winds and canyons, with beds where ancient rivers shriveled to poetic memory, and were confined within their forgotten cuneiform epics. For years we may wander (within our own makings) and never once brush the sleeves of our torn shirts together. Never once, might we stumble upon tracts that are not of the red bulls.
So on today-
When it was gray outdoors I looked at photographs of Prague, of Baghdad, of the far eastern deserts, while you sat above me, beyond the layer of stone and wooden floor, staring out the melting window into the pines, lashing with the wind. And were you quite happy? Yes, you wear the desert of your making about your hand, wave it about when you speak, laugh with golden laughter. And I can be presumptuous in my fashionings of perfected tragedies that really do not apply.
So suffering? Perhaps. Perhaps you do wear the desert on your hand. I certainly wear it in my eyes. I certainly see the green outline of baghdad against the evening. But maybe you suffer only the cold. Maybe you suffer only the wind and rain, and you do not stumble, your mouth filling with sand, your gray eyes closed against the red heat.
There were times I would smile at you in sunlight, the late, waxy sunlight of commencing winter. I would forego the self-consciousness of my crooked smile if, for that moment, to show you that I could be more than red desert, that I was not merely clad in silk to be burnt by the great sun god. And my crooked smile would be real, and you in the waxy sun would be real, and apparent, far away from the ribbed dunes, from the buried cities.
And there were times I would see you in the grey wind, your hands gloved in soft grey, your eyes like rivers, of vapor against the tightened sky. These times it would be after the great spatial impact had occurred, although your grey gloves would cover well the comet you wore about your hand. And it was cold and barren, nothing like the desert. These times I would wish the bleeding sands, I would wish, grabbing my hands about the dry air, and feeling the iridium from your own comet brush my face. Then at least I would know you, alone, in the wide wasteland, awaiting perhaps even the mirage of a city. When I would see you in the disparaging bite of november, it would hurt so much more than the sun.
(And you bear the name of my father, David, who wandered his own desert.)
And David, you bear the name of desert kings
And David, in the end, it is love and dust.
I would only hope you know this, and that I am not standing at the cusp of the dry breathing world, waiting for the green cities they shall never rebuild.
I remember you once, for the first time, in the late spring, an it was not gray in the least. No, all the Roman reds, the ancient and vivid oranges and greens, flaring out like a great chariot race against gold and black highway. I remember how for the first time, I saw your dark hair graying. And I wanted to touch your hair, if from my own eyes and hair, my own skin and my mouth, I could flow out a rush of color. And I decided-
That somewhere, David, in your wide gray eyes or the corners of you slavic smile, there was a red desert, with the great crossed swords of imperial antiquity presiding about the wide horizon-
like great canyons.
like the mouths of angry gods.