The dread of city life promises aching bones, chatter brain, curled blood. 
It promises red lights, turning yellow, turning green. It promises anxieties of crowds and elevators. Our adolescent sense of immortality long gone, replaced with fatigue and the sense of nostalgia the sky brings. We crave secrets and the cotton arms of nature. We crave home. But home comes with the cruelty of the elements. Home comes disguised as a Church of everything that will suck you down into the ground if you fail to prepare. Home comes in guises christened in landscapes and colors. Home reminds you that death is an honorable thing, so as to have something else gather the lessons you’ve learned, their way. 

The trip to the desert takes about two hours from Los Angeles. Though there are other deserts sparkling from my minds peripheral, I am enamored with Joshua Tree. 

Long highways of mustard speckled Spring. Covert flashes of purples and pinks sit patiently by cantankerous neighbors. When you enter, you’re two billion years old. When your feet hit the ground, when you climb the towers of cracked rock, you’re home. If you’re curious, you’ll find a cave or a crevice where you can listen to 800,000 acres of silence. But a winding road between peppered Joshua Trees can also suffice. Upward fractures give you height, and eroding rocks in the palm of your hands crack under pressure. You stare into miles of sun-scorched wasteland and disappear. 
You’re home. 

How did home become a distant pleasure? 
When and how did we disconnect?
Was it mutual?
Does she still love me?
Will she take me back?

I’ll attempt to answer these questions, though I feel that the answers are as nebulous as Jazz.

My relationship to nature comes with comedic pursuits. I tend to chase the sun without worry of consequence. I want to fall into it like soft billowed clouds beneath my feet. It dotes itself in pretty colors, hypnotizing all onlookers. I’m madly in love, yet she belongs to everyone. 

There’s pleasure in danger. You recoil and remember harsh weather and the embrace of using what you’ve been given to survive. Senses hustle in desolation and remember starvation. 

We crave home. But home comes with the cruelty of the elements. Home comes disguised as a Church of everything that will suck you down into the ground if you fail to prepare. Home comes in guises christened in landscapes and colors. Home reminds you that death is an honorable thing, so as to have something else gather the lessons you’ve learned, their way. 

On any given day, the desert offers antiquity. Metaphors of long forgotten poetry. It inspires strife and controversy and love in the shape of words.

the black sky clears
into a pulverized
tetrahedron quartz
there's a queue dreamt up
of contours, space, and time

a syzygy of elongated beasts
diffused like myrrh and flame

silhouettes ask, 
"who taught you how to love?"

"I never stopped...", I say

from a thousand throats came
the caterwauling call,
depths deep inside your grit
a bovine strength purred scared into a crook

the darkness nods a rhythm
that pulls your scattered limbs to dance
a pince of quilted eyelids
embellished in a wicked trance

I'll fall a million pieces thick
strewn thin amongst the clouds
moist earthen galloped Scorpius sting,
cascades in veins avowed

Joshua, Sungjin Ahn (2013)

Leaving the city feels like abandonment to the abuse we inflict on ourselves. We begin to feel the distance between what consoles and fractures. Yet, there’s a beauty in getting lost. There’s a beauty in not knowing the destination.

“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.”Khalil Gibran

There’s a reason the element of surprise is revered. Routine kills with such grace, that we don’t even feel its effects until after we’re dead. Luckily, nature resurrects and we get the chance to breathe once more. We purge incantations, and psalms eject from open mouths. 

I’ve flown past you
a myriad of times,

watched the sun stretch
over rolling hills

watched seasons change
and cider trees, 
with fire leaves
turn bleak,

winding roads, 
empty,
etched with lightning curves
mimes the timbre of your laugh

eyes fooled
by tense rust
and sandstone hues
colors poised like inclinations

we pollinate, 
from plant to plant, 
thought to thought, 

but while we lay our eggs, 
& implant our verses
we’re desert plants
strong and calloused
spread about like soldiers

the glum Joshua Tree
hangs high and low
with arms extended, 
pleading for worship

feet on jagged rock formations
feel...
like giants brought them here
...100 million years ago

This all might sound a bit dramatic, I understand. There’s fear in vulnerability. There’s fear in allowing playfulness to fully experiment within ourselves. But in order to not suffocate, and in order to not let the dreary aftermath of life make us sore, we must surrender. We simply must. Our lives depend on it. Find what heals, and let it heal you. Listen to your body and give it what it needs. Most times, it’s as simple as enjoying the company of you. Nature is always wiling to give, if we are willing to concede.


INGRID CALDERON is a Salvadoran refugee residing in Los Angeles. She's published in Leste MagElectric CerealDrylandSeafom MagAnti-Heroin Chic, Occulum, etc... Her latest poetry book Zenith is published through Editions Du Cygne, a French publisher based out of Paris. Her goal is to be an anonymous voice that cuddles the masses. She wants to be relatable, not unique. Find her on Twitter @BrujaLamatepec.

Photo by Chestina Craig