distant mountains
soft dun profile 
barely noticed
mind on the ordinary

cleaning, reading
chatting on the phone
running errands 

until evening sun
begins it's descent
launching a transformation

unexpected brilliance
of gold, bronze, amber
draws me to those 
once drab hills 

I am compelled 
to sit, to watch
ever shifting  forms 

shadows amidst
swathes of sunshine
once hidden ridges
outlined by jet ravines
stark beauty

now the light softens
mahogany, amethyst, mauve
with charcoal depths
a prayer to dusk

I close my eyes
futile attempt
to hold on to the moment

for when I glance again
only a fading profile remains

I reenter the mundane

© 2000 Anne Johnson


The Sonoran Desert has been an inspiration for creativity ever since people have walked itís rough sandy valleys and climbed itís colorful rocky heights. It is a vast and abundant desert framed by mountains that leap from the valley floor in fascinating forms. Some of these mountains bring to mind old westerns while others seem a part of a fantasy world.

On the desert floor long periods of drought blessed with occasional feasts of water has created a fascinating landscape. An occasional paloverde with itís slick green trunk and branches stands among tangled mesquite. Here and there we find a witchy Ocotillo with its wicked thorned stems reaching for the sky. This plant stands barren and ugly until rain brings out leaves and blossoms transforming it into a beautiful good witch. Rising above all this, Giant Saguaro cacti stand tall as if ready to march to a signal that never comes. Close to the ground smaller cacti and brush offer protection for the creatures of the desert. Washes meander here and there. Summer monsoons can fill them with dangerous speed, otherwise they wait in quiet thirst.

Lizards scatter or bask. Small bands of javelinas survive this parched climate, so squat and ugly they seem to be creatures from science fiction. They feed on the prickly pear cacti oblivious to the long sharp spines. A scream in the night indicates that a coyote has decreased the over abundant rabbit population by one. Nature has no pity as it brings balance to the desert world.

The trees are filled with birds so diverse that I won't begin to try to name them. Hummingbirds dart around in search of succulent blossoms. Ravens and an occasional hawk soar across the sky. Quail lead a line of their fuzzy babies. Roadrunners dash about in search of lunch. Should they meet there will be one less quail chick in the bevy. Later we observe only two or three youthful quail behind each set of parents; desert survivors.

Ancient pottery and pictorial art on rocks are the earliest reflections of the beauty of this region. Even now Navajo rugs, animal fetishes, native pottery and other arts bring old traditions into the modern world.

For me the Sornoran desert is a place of poetry. I can thank my father for inspiring my love of this region for he saw the wonder in every aspect of this desert. Each time I gaze at the sky I recall how he loved watching the ever changing clouds. When I spot a bird flitting among the trees I see it through his eyes. It even feels as if he had a hand in creating the evening shades of pinks on the mountains.

© 2000 Judy Anne

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