He Stood

He stamped his feet and opened the door, stood on the threshold, turned around. The desert light shrank his eyes, sun slammed his face—he almost lost his breath—blond shiny grasses, ring of distant mountains pinking in the haze, the scorched but somehow fertile earth—he wiped his brow—he couldn’t go in, he couldn’t move, he couldn’t say why—as if he too were a thing dried in sunlight, stopped in his tracks in the heat that fixed him in its gaze—rattlesnake Medusa—where he breathed the stinging dusty winds as though a rock inhaling rock—his proper evolution?—and fed on silence as it flowered and fell—the fierce clarity, the fierce restraint—front door behind him hanging open like a thrown shadow as he blazed in place... a man inside the view... the zooming arc... and edge to edge the blue absolute...


Copyright © 2013 by Aaron Shurin. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on July 2, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

About this Poem

"When I visit my friends south of Tucson, I say I’m going to Arizona to eat sky. I’m always amazed how much amplitude there is in the desert’s minimal details. I wanted the person in this poem to be so transfixed by the view that he shifts from being a detached observer to being a part of that amplitude, a figure moving from the outside to the inside of his own frame."
—Aaron Shurin