Become Desert

          After John Luther Adams’s musical composition Become Desert

Jordan Rodriguez

In the botanical garden at UC Riverside
where rose blossoms are framed by smog

a scrub jay flies down the mountain
and perches on the palos verde

to survey so marvelous a garden
we cultivate here

little bird, tell the roses I’m sorry
for the smog

and tell the roses I breathe it too
though I’m more culpable, you’d agree

but if we should suddenly fade away
into the grit beneath the chaparral

this garden too would return to desert
and the roses would wilt

you would keep the highways and warehouses
now bearing Amazon and Walmart

but cars like the one I drove
to come here would stop

and then I think you would have
the last laugh

I’m sure new growth would overtake the old,
and if you found yourself among the new

your song would ring out just the same
limitless over the roofs of our world

Jordan Rodriguez is a high school English teacher in San Leandro, CA. His writing has been published in About Place Journal, Tule Review, Inlandia, and Occam’s Razor.

© Variant Literature Inc 2021