When the Moon Fell in the Desert

Tonight I watched a star slice through the dark
Turkana sky, so bright I thought the
moon was falling, and I realized it
was the first thing I’d seen in this
wide country that made me gasp
for the beauty of it. But this place, too,
is beloved of the earth, this place, too,
holds the million miracles. I suspect it takes
a learning, a leaning into this life, to see
its small offerings, an intimacy with
the blazing heat, the endless sand,
the sharp clarity of no water, no food,
no crops, before your heart can open
wide enough to receive the gift of the golden sun
laying its heart across the lean acacia. Before you
smile to hear the black bird with the caw
like a creaking door and the dove
with its watery whooping. And then,
if you are lucky, you will find you love
the immense courage and artistry of a people
choosing thousands of beads, startling
against the endless browns of this place,
who wear as much beauty as their necks can hold
when beauty seems to have no meaning.
Who find time to attend to the stringing of necklaces,
hard silver bands bent around wrists, tiny braids
against smoothly shaven temples when water itself
is unassumed, when life this week again
is tenuous. When did I learn that beauty
was a luxury? What have I ever known
about survival?

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