Thursday, January 25, 2007

It moves towards me.
From a distance,
it is seeking me out.
It is desire of a sort.
It is need.
It is want.

In stark contrast against some
desolate landscape,
a small black period exists
there at the end
of a short life sentence.

Want makes a sound not unlike
that of a mewing kitten.
And Indeed,
were it that a giant eye
might gaze down from above,
it might observe a tiny jet black kitten
vectoring towards me
from a distance of thirty feet and closing.

I stand in a compound
some twenty miles south of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Having given you the locale,
you envision desert—
an extreme environment.
And this Arabian desert is the ultimate of
austere arid nothingness.
Again, everything here has a life sentence.
Everything exists to die.

The compound of which I talk
is actually a series of interlocking concrete villas
and sporadic courtyards.
All of this surrounded by chain-link and razor wire.
All of this surrounded by wasteland.
Here inside, each courtyard is its own desert.
Its own failed petri-dish.
But look, each miniature desert
comes complete with the luxury of
two or three withered palm trees.
The gravel, sand and hardpan between them
has been artfully raked into parallel lines.
If you must die here,
please have the common courtesy
not to fall perpendicular to
these precisely defined lines.

In one courtyard we eat.
In another we find the villas where
we eventually come to sleep.
In between are all the courtyards
that make up the span
between here and there.

Fully sated, I am passing from
what I am to what I will be,
there at my final destination.
Along the way, demands are made—
both by me
and of me.
In one of those many courtyards
I encounter “want”.
Here in this vast honeycomb of villas
live a multitude of feral cats.
How this came to be, I don’t know.
An act of god?

Don’t get me started.

We are told that in this colony of cats,
there is the existence of rabies.
We are told to have no contact with these
feral felines whatsoever.
We are told that.
And here in this desert
there is that which thrives
and that which dies.

“Want” does not exist
though some apparition of it
continues to move towards me.
Abandoned by its mother,
this tiny black mewing kitten
should have been claimed by the desert
one week ago,
and yet some life-form…
Some thing we know
which walks on two legs,
has passed this way before.

Something bipedal gave in
to that which we define as
Something upright and human
came to the assumption that
we as a generic species
would all possess
this exact same compassion.
That we as a whole
would always be here
for this one small kitten which
has come to associate us all with sustenance.

Rumor has it that
we are all made in the likeness of our creator.
That all of us possess aspects of
his divine qualities.
Do we?

There now six feet away,
“Want” cries out my name,
but I?
I take two steps back.
I turn and walk away.
And for my final week in this forsaken desert,
I follow a different path home.

©06 Jack Hubbell

1 comment:

posthumous said...

hell yeah. not every desert poem reaches beyond the desert the way this does.

or to be more accurate, this poem reveals the desert in all of us.

and around all of us.

and between all of us.