BROKEN ENGLISH, MOTHER TONGUE
I had never really lived in the desert, that is if Los Angeles , and its usually dry hot vicinity, wasn’t desert. And if it was, well, then I’d lived in the desert all my life and I guess everything that happened actually makes some sort of sense, some sort of logic stays even after the ashes scatter and the smell of burnt powder dissipates up and high along treetops and down into the plain. But, I still don’t think Los Angeles that desert.
Although it is frontier town after decades and four scores. Its the outskirts what are desert and hinterland and alone. Lone tombstone-like gas stations and rest areas attest, no longer to road trips, but to horrific fantasias now real pumped into the slivers of urbanity stuck like needles into this voodoo doll of a country.
So, its Palmdale and Lancaster and Victorville and out deeper on the fruited lanes of Pearblossom highway, the mythos of cowboyish hegemonies fading, now appearing in the reflected eye-glint of truck-driving passersby.
Yes, then the desert is again peripheral to the metropolitane, the sub sub urban, yet urban. And this desert is frighteningly more urban in its apparent sparseness and desolation–the basis of any mass of steel and glass and freeways take root here in the desert where what is proliferated in the cities is stark and bare and clear. Pure urban processes form here in the desert, pure and dangerous for lack of multiplication.
And if it was not I saying it I would condemn any harkening of this ilk to these deserts by any other as cheap thrills by scopophilic non-chalants and blaspheming tourismo.
But, I speak now of the dry familiar weather and heat and gritty gravel-like sand with jack rabbit and quail, the sound of rifle discharge along the highway and rancid fruit in throngs littering the roadside stalls, the Air Force base road and then tea at night alone with the fire and tea hot with the hot biting, chaffing wind and cigarette and–no, not the American nightmare horror movie myth imbedded in mind–no, now wide open eyes, no fear from asylum escapee dismemberment or old man cannibals of the crazy, irreconcilable southwest, but a first-order invigorating fear untouchable and untouched.
Out in the mountain above the plain and Pearblossom highway, there with young remnants of TV bibles and consumer induced rituals, above but never far beyond the young ruralman’s truckbed fornication and splatter and suck down the beer before another man’s fists, and her thirsting, quenched lips now alone with billiards and Mexican food anglicized by a second generation.
8000 feet above but smelling the arrival…
I remember deserts like I remember the permutations of my name and remember like blueprints etched.
The night is cold, but familiar sleep will never come.