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March 2006, vol 2 no 1

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Graham High

DEATH VALLEY

glimpsed through the windscreen
not quite a shooting star—
but a satellite

It's late into the night and I'm too tired to drive any more. I pull off tarmac into sand. The car's small juddering death brings to life an overwhelming silence. Death Valley: It is the nearest place to nowhere that anyone could tell me of. The interior light of my car renders me blind to all outside, and vulnerable; its little bulb-ego blares in the silence. I arrange my sleeping bag hurriedly; lock myself in the car, frightened that the Universe will see me.

I curl up and quench my yellow presence. The moon-light swells silently as my eyes adjust. Beneath the clear sky there is only dust—grey mountains behind one grey plain. Spectres of rocks slowly appear like planets from the desert and nothing stirs. I myself am still, a face, a huddled shoulder at the window.

After an hour a stone moves, becomes a comet of shadow. A single small creature is silently exploring the expanses of its solitude. Before dawn I too must leave the safety of the car. There may be scorpions? or snakes?

choosing the most
naked place under the stars
to take a shit

In the morning I check my life support systems—gas tank half full; water—two litres; a little food. I watch a lizard for maybe an hour, almost oblivious of time, and then drive on, heading for the way out.

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