Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The space between Ikea and Tucson...

Is about 115 miles each way, at least to my house in southeast Tucson; and while I had the good fortune to go to Ikea this weekend, and the rather reduced fortune of going back there the next day to replace a defective part, the journey on the second trip especially was meditative because of the wide and often sharp terrain of the desert landscape. Add to that what I consider to be the best rock album of all time, U2's The Joshua Tree, evoking in its wide-open riffs and desert-angst lyrices, and it was easy to slip into the poetry of the Sonoran landscape, blurring along Interstate 10 at 85 mph.

There is a definite and physical geography to desert poetry, captured so well by the likes of A.R. Ammons. The perception of the desert is dry, sparse, hot. All true, to a degree, of course. But the desert can also be unexpectedly lush, aromatic, and incredibly cultural.

Wildflowers, dunes, and mountains of El Pinacate, Mexico.Back in March I had the sudden opportunity to drop everything and take off for Mexico's El Pinacate National Biosphere Reserve with fellow neighbor, friend, and author Scott Calhoun. El Pinacate hosts North America's largest sand dune desert, reminiscent of the Saraha. Yet, every so often--as with this spring--there is an amazing wildflower display. That led to my editorial in the current issue of Terrain.org. There's also a slideshow.

Even before my family and I moved to Tucson in 2000 (and I lived here for 5 years as a kid, 20 years or so prior), much of my poetry took its place in the desert. Even now, though I have a graduate degree in urban and regional planning and have thought much about writing poems about cities, the urban fabric, my poems go back to the desert, both the natural environment and cultural landscapes.

The other day my older daughter and I were determining color opposites by looking long and hard at a color sheet, then pulling that away and staring at a blank white wall to see its opposite. The desert has been similarly imprinted on my brain--all the way to the unexplainable core of my soul--so that no matter what wall I look upon--the wall of the world and its many geographies--I always see the image of the desert. Its geography burns me from the inside, and that is my release.

Simmons

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Beautiful, Simmons. Beautiful.