Originally published in Gravel: A Literary Magazine
In red trunks you’re half dressed, smiling into
the sand, and you’re not sick yet. We’ve climbed
the glistening dunes together, risen from the heart
of the Tularosa Basin on waves of white gypsum,
have buried ourselves in the smooth dust of Spanish
explorers leaving treasures in an open sea of sand.
There are whole histories lost in the waves beneath
us, the paths of ancient hunters, descendants of men
who crossed worlds on bare feet. Our feet dig into
the ocean and find children’s toys, lost keys, the bones
of desert lizards. This is before the years we never
talk about. Mute, we will to track each blood cell
as it changes, chart red versus white, count each number
in your viral load. Here you’re smiling, laughing, broad
mouth open to straight white teeth, and your skin, hot
in the high noon sun, is just beginning to turn red.
BETTY STANTON (she/her) is a writer who lives and works in Tulsa. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals and collections and has been included in anthologies from Dos Gatos Press and Picaroon Poetry Press. She received her MFA from The University of Texas - El Paso.