Alone in the Desert by Paul Swenson

450px-Jimson_Weed_(Datura_inoxia),_opening_flower by Wmpearl

On her closet floor, what
looks like a dried flower €”
arrayed in a display of faded
glory (tendrils splayed
to welcome her) €”plays
tricks on the eye. Can’t
say what stops her

from picking it up. But
living alone in the desert,
under an endless sky,
gives even a dead tarantula
a florid allure. And out
the back door of her Virgin
hideaway, the iris

(orange, green and brown
growths) €”lovely or lurid
against the blue mouth
of Zion Canyon? Doesn’t
that one long stem, winding
through and out the top
of the photograph (grotesque
almost) €”belong in a Dali

painting? It seems to lean
to her, tempted by tender
flesh at her throat, where
a cluster of silver gems
gleams above a shadow
of décolleté. Hair, once black,
then gray, now white, reflects

ethereal light of distant stars.
When desert’s dark descends
and foxtail blends with stone,
is she lonely there? No, this
is her hour. Night-blooming
moonflower extends her roots
and turns her petals out.


If you would like to read more of Paul’s poetry and see his bio, go here and here.

Photo of moonflower (jimsom weed) flower by Wmpearl.


3 thoughts on “Alone in the Desert by Paul Swenson”

  1. Flowers are so very sensual. Sometimes in unsettling ways. The iris, for instance, has always reminded me of female anatomy. You mention it in this poem, along with words like “splayed,” “tempted,” “flesh at her tender throat,”

    I’m seeing Georgia O’Keefe paintings 🙂


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