Like a Cotton Sheet Unfolded with a Snap

Posted by:
Susan Rooke
May 16, 2017

This poem appeared in Texas Poetry Calendar 2015 (Dos Gatos Press), and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize:

Like a Cotton Sheet Unfolded with a Snap

The desert dust billows before sinking, lying
smooth. Sometimes the winds, hot or cold, will
lift the edges with a flap, a gritty flutter. Dust
is the fitted suit we come to wear.

The sky bores us all to death, white-chipped
cobalt blue, a coffee mug upended in a “none
for me, thanks” gesture to the great hands above
that hold the pot tilted over someone else’s land.

They say dust is made of the skin cells we shed
into the air like smoke, of meteoric bodies
sifted through the fine weave of space. In this
desiccated carcass of the west, dust is made of

mammal scat brittled in the sun, grasshopper wings
whirred to powder, rust mined from derelict strands
of wire. From this dust our lives are formed.
When it cakes the corners of our eyes we call it sleep.

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