it’s as if
no matter where I go
or what I do
my mind is a desert,
my soul withering
like an old Egyptian mummy –
tossed aside as worthless
after a tomb robber
took my treasure –
my ancient heart
pickled in a jar, chest
packed instead with antique
sawdust and moldy
old secrets I took
to my grave and beyond, in
my shell of a body which
had been parked
in the dark, peacefully
alone, needing no one,
feeling nothing
for so very long.

and then I see
a distant oasis shimmering
cool, blue, impossible,
cruel with promise
like the faintest dream
of a memory,
a long-abandoned wish
which I thought had been removed
with my blood.
there’s no liquid left in me
for water to speak to,
and yet I feel it – my disembodied
heart’s desire – calling, drawing
every molecule
left in my body
that remembers what
thirst feels like,
a deep well of life
somehow seeming to float serenely
above the fiery, shifting,
sifting sands.

a few sips from a cactus
buy me just enough strength
to crawl across
the burning dunes.
and while this greenery
is no mirage, an assortment of wildlife
guards it well. I can only get
a few satisfying draughts
before I’m chased away.

I half-sleep uneasily,
keeping one eye open
and one ear peeled,
up in the trees,
and set out again at dawn
to search for a new pool
that isn’t quite
so popular.

Published by

R. Brookes McKenzie

what fresh hell is this

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