By Benjamin Alire Sáenz
I came to you one rainless August night.
You taught me how to live without the rain.
You are thirst and thirst is all I know.
You are sand, wind, sun, and burning sky,
The hottest blue. You blow a breeze and brand
Your breath into my mouth. You reach—then bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
You wrap your name tight around my ribs
And keep me warm. I was born for you.
Above, below, by you, by you surrounded.
I wake to you at dawn. Never break your
Knot. Reach, rise, blow, Sálvame, mi dios,
Trágame, mi tierra. Salva, traga, Break me,
I am bread. I will be the water for your thirst.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz, “To the Desert” from Dark and Perfect (El Paso: Cinco Puntos Press, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Used with the permission of the author.
Source: Dark and Perfect (1995)
Poet, novelist, essayist, and children’s book author, Benjamin Alire Sáenz grew up on a cotton farm in New Mexico speaking only Spanish until he started elementary school. Although his education eventually took him to Denver, Belguim, Iowa, and California, Sáenz settled in the border region between Texas and New Mexico — an area that remains central to his writing.
More Poems about Nature
What Women Are Made Of
We are all ventricle, spine, lung, larynx, and gut.
Clavicle and nape, what lies forked in an open palm;
we are follicle and temple. We are ankle, arch,
sole. Pore and rib, pelvis and root
and tongue. We are wishbone and gland and molar
Of Tribulation, these are They,
Denoted by the White.
— Emily Dickinson
in the split geode
a Santa’s grotto
every surface —
like sea urchins’ —
in the doorways
sleepers from the womb
to make of anything succulent