‘No Place (Dorothy Reconsiders)’ & ‘Dorothy in the Desert’

From the Archives

From The Emerald Issue

No Place (Dorothy Reconsiders)

Out here the din of tin on tin hangs
just below an orphaned smudge of cumulus,
threatening fickle weather.
The particular maliciousness of rain
in winter says: consider what you’d do
for a dollar—consider skin; consider it
penance for the runaway’s sin, the problem
of the absconding heart. Consider it
gone. You know home as a word
worn through, like your name, threadbare
version of you. At dawn your cowardly
companion tells you the dog is missing.
They always come back, he says. Don’t
let him fool you. With the past
like a pistol at your back,
anyone can be brave. In Kansas,
the bent back of your aunt mirrors the sickle.
She’s threshing herself down
to the thinnest husk, her longing
now just a paper kernel.

Dorothy in the Desert

The sky behind you is a sherbet
pastiche of movie set hues:
violet dunes on the horizon’s
spread of tangerine, the sunset
just a blood thread
where the world is halved
by the lingering dusk
into the day that’s passed
and the coming night. Nothing
is easy as that, Aunt Em
said as you left. Your friends
have gone now, too, satisfied
by platitudes about love
and courage and brains. See
how far those got you. As far
as you can see, the grown world
is empty. Lost is the word you try,
but when you open your mouth,
language rolls down your chin
like cud, splintered with shreds
of unfamiliar syllables. You wanted
to be only your own. Didn’t you.
If a word falls in the desert,
does it make a place to stay? Here,
only the night’s cerulean wraps
around you, a listless cloud.
Under a rind of moon, the silver dog
endlessly digs a hole in the sand
for your voice to sink into.