Enormous events have taken place in desert places. Some have been spiritual, some confrontational, some solitary, some involving huge armies. But the desert itself remains, and the silence remains when all else is gone. My experience of desert came in Nevada. I loved the promise of the silence, but shrank from the memory of the nuclear testing which had taken place there. It was as if I was encountering my own devils in God’s silence.
So this is a desert. Grey dust
stretches for miles to rumpled hills –
dust peppered with puffs of thorn
and punctuated by tall spiked shapes.
A heavy silence presses on the ears
which pound in answer as the blood
rushes round. There is no other sound.
No bird sings, no creeping thing
rustles the dry leaves, no water
drips or seeps. The huge pale sky
is windless, and the straight road
an empty slash to the far haze.
God, we are small. But in this place
man became so huge that worlds quake,
in the hideous paradox of size
destroying with the particles of God:
creators of deserts still to be.