Out in the desert, on the way to Los Angelas, on a family trip.
Tired from riding all day, down from the green, cold mountains
into the sparse and bright desert, the reptiles and snakes around.
It was almost sundown, the sunlight melting away, and the night
coming down, and with it cold, cold I’d fought I’d left back home.
I never knew it got cold in the desert.
You, little sis, all awkward sharp edges and mussed hair, stood
on the edge of the railing of the pull off, looking west, to the sea,
to city shining like a golden bowl in the distance, incense to be offered.
You were growing, and I was almost grown, and it wasn’t easy anymore,
like when we were young and would play together, knew our world better.
I would be leaving soon for college. You would be going to junior high.
In the fading light, the velvety and gauzy sunset still lingering, I took a picture.
It would capture you, hugging your self, the wind fluttering that wild mop of hair,
the eyes so sad, the beginning of you calling the angels to hold you.
You heard the camera click, and turned to me, an odd look in your eyes,
both tender and distant, as if trying to call out my name from the other side
of the ocean, as if to pull me to you, locked away in the sun.
I put my arm around you, and you buried your face in my side, and it felt
calm and holy, like silence was a true hymn and speaking an unforgivable
It was the last holy moment for us, for so, so very long.