I see them like crowns in a bed of dark leaves. The color is brazen, almost blinding. Snow in the middle of summer.
You never gave me a white rose. But I see them offered in your face. I see them in your tired, weathered hands, the way they fit around perfectly, and engulf mine. So large, a shelter that I never had.
And sometimes I see their petals feathering out, reaching out in the furrows above your eyes. Blue eyes, clearer than water, like the longest evening of the year. A winter day in the middle of summer, the center of sweltering heat. A whole life a sweltering heat, a whole life trapped in desert spaces where there is no rippling water, no sense of time ending. Nothing to tell shadows from reality, not even in the long indigo spaces of the rocks, radiating outward like pointed fingers when the sun is going down.
Roses that tell of long winters and long white halls. The smells of hospitals, and dark little rooms where you’ve thought of the white blade, where you’ve thought of rivers running red.
Roses, in the spaces of tramping feet and unbearably heavy packs. And sleeping outside in the Afghan sun with straw and chattering chickens. In a foreign land, a strange land, among tired bodies, and sunburnt faces, and dark tawny stares, and a language like a flickering snake sliding up and down the Bedouin dunes, where stars and stripes seem laughable.
Dakota boy, running all your life. Do you ever get that image out of your eye, the image of the white church burning and burning before you had time to remember it clearly; do you ever remember the long hills of green grass? Or running from that white day, white like the piano keys playing up and down in a river, the Christmas days when the snow was falling. When a loved one taught you the meaning of music, taught you the gray spaces between a cascade of dark and light. Do you think of the shrapnel flying around you and ducking your head, in the way she might have ducked her head when the glass was falling around her car? Crushed like a tin can, did she see that white pinpoint of a new beginning?
Or was it all black and only black, the black you were hoping for when you lay in the grass or under rafters, and heard the cows moaning?
Time runs and runs in the New Mexico sun, days as old and insurmountable as the lines running round and round on your face, in your head. You ran from the desert only to wander through yet another, ever seeking, ever wondering where the past ends and the future meets, whether days expire imperceptibly. Whether there is an end to suffering.
You ran, and somehow found me. Watching with animal eyes, hiding under lonely peaks, fearing the merciless truth of the sun. A sun that whispers.
What am I? Another long desert trail? Can I grow a seed? Can I bear a flower?
I see our days now, a little bit of pure in that desert sun and those desert nights. Out of all that gnawing hunger and bitter pain and confusion, I see them now. Growing like our pomegranate trees, a little taller every day. Growing despite thunderstorms, and flooding arroyos, and sunsets streaming with gore.
A little dream, a little raised blooming head, saying that maybe the story isn’t over. Maybe I could feel a little love for the first time. Despite a ravaged body, despite tangled limbs and a fear of unborn children, children born out of a dark night in a foreign room with a foreign man. A man that swept away life, burning like the withering dunes.
A little rippling water, under that Arabic sun. Out of the sand and the fire, a little bit of metal as white as a star. A little bit of green, a little bit of seasons changing. A little dream that I might be like a child again.
I see the blooms, like crowns in a bed of broken leaves. But I won’t dare touch them. I won’t dare pluck them away. I’ll watch them grow, and see if time changes us after all.
Written by our first Annoynomous submitter. Born in Nevada, she seeks to escape the desert and find inspiration for her writing and art. She is a Libra with a beautiful and analytic mind, with the warmest heart and compassion to her friends and family.