75. Section II, Summer 1934: Waking

Nightshirt peeled wet
From her skin,
From the sheet: black
Ticking showed beneath.
Dawn. Her stomach
Squeezed: knows what’s
Coming, Riah thought–
The heat.
Slipping from the damp
Bed, she went padding
Barefoot through the house.
Nudged the door.

She surveyed.
East horizon
Had begun to
Show, smooth line
Halving the wide
Pupils of her
Eyes. Through blue
Pre-light, sand dunes
Rippled, rigid
Waves. Cresting
At the steps, they
Settled into whorls
Against the shed,
Mounting the bent
Chickenwire fence,
Pale and sloping,
Inundating posts,
Overlapping garden
And the fields,
Where she’d spaded,
Bailing out limp plants.
Scrawny cactus
Pricked up by the truck.
She’d not seen dark
Soil for six months.

Riah thought:
A desert.
Earth had tilted.
They were sliding,
In a spin.

Now. New red
Burn of sunrise
Threatened them.
She watched, thinking:
Well. Sink, or
Swim.

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