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  • Rachel Linton

Poetry: Looking for God in the American Southwest

By Rachel Linton

Photo by Ken Cheung via Upsplash.

Take the highway south and east.

We’re out here looking for the small ‘g’,

the gods that live among the jackrabbits

and the cacti and the dust, not the capital-G

Gd because I don’t need him right now--

I’m Jewish, I don’t need the theological equivalent

of arguing philosophy with my dad.

Not right now, anyway; I need what

my boss calls “a change of scenery”

and I call “not spending eighteen hours a day

in my childhood bedroom”--

I need to smash something; shatter

this impermeable status, find a way

to restart time, because the usual things

like waiting, going to bed and waking up

in the morning, or watching the sand

slide through the hourglass just

aren’t cutting it anymore.

I’m not going mad--got to give

the mind and body credit, they keep trucking on--

skin under eyes bruised dark then darker

until the brain puts itself out for fourteen hours,

one shot, recharge. I drink coffee for the rest.

Still the dirty clothes goes in the hamper,

laundry every week, vacuum every other.

Spinning the hamster wheel of adulthood.

At some point you’ve got to get out;

it’s not going camping when you’re really in it

for the highway, foot on the gas, sixteen, eighteen,

twenty-one, god of the interstate how am I almost

twenty-four, where do years go, where did

this last year go, especially?

I am looking for the god that ate it.

I am looking out over the desert, the hungriest landscape.

The desert has been starving for many, many years,

and hungry creatures stick together, circle the drain themselves

with no water to carry them down. If there is a god of suffering

he lives in the Mojave. If there is a god of time,

somewhere out here, bleached white,

are his bones.

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