I wasn’t there when you stepped
off the plane into the desert.
I was walking down Fifth Street, conscious
of wheels scraping the runway.
When I crossed Clemens Center Parkway,
my ears popped
and suddenly I could hear
everything. I didn’t cry
right then. Those tears
came almost two years later
when I thought about the cactus
that must have pricked you.
Bleeding for days, you held that finger
above your heart, as if you were checking
the direction of the wind.
Now I know
that somewhere between New York and Texas
I should have stopped talking
about baseball and the ’86 World Series.
I should have told you
my fear of the desert, the place
where water escapes the wind
by vanishing into the earth.
Where the ground cracks in a desperate effort
to keep one dying patch of bluebonnets
from withering into dust.
Where I knew the ground
would rise up, unsatisfied
with your garden hose
and swallow you.
—Kristin Fullerton lives in upstate New York. She is a proud alumna of both Elmira College and University at Albany. Previous work has appeared in Grasslimb, Devilfish Review and online at Strong Verse.