If you stop the scrabble of your boots
on the gravel slope down Carl's Hill,
hush the water bottle's slosh against your waist,
stand still until your breathing slows,
until the pulse quits drumming in your ears.
If cicadas or a light plane buzzing somewhere
tether you to earth enough to risk the trip
over the rim of the empty bowl, go.
Shoulder through the folks six deep
in front of each O'Keefe,
cup your ears to shut the babble out,
the whir of explanation from a dozen docent tapes.
If the blood-throb of your palms,
the synapse-clicks from her thick paint strokes,
lift you through a scoured hipbone,
over her red and fissured cliffs,
and into the sky, fly.
Or sit on the last bench in the last campground
past Borrego Springs.
When tourists pack their vans and go,
face away from the fire pit, release your breath.
In that thick silence
strung between the octillo spines,
stand the vast as long as you can.
Don't back away, but dive,
past sand, past sky, over the rim
of the empty bowl, and swim.
Jayne Relaford Brown