Published on Academy of American Poets (

From the Desire Field

I don’t call it sleep anymore.
             I’ll risk losing something new instead—

like you lost your rosen moon, shook it loose.

But sometimes when I get my horns in a thing—
a wonder, a grief or a line of her—it is a sticky and ruined
             fruit to unfasten from,

despite my trembling.

Let me call my anxiety, desire, then.
Let me call it, a garden.

Maybe this is what Lorca meant
             when he said, verde que te quiero verde—

because when the shade of night comes,
I am a field of it, of any worry ready to flower in my chest.

My mind in the dark is una bestia, unfocused,
             hot. And if not yoked to exhaustion

beneath the hip and plow of my lover,
then I am another night wandering the desire field—

bewildered in its low green glow,

belling the meadow between midnight and morning.
Insomnia is like Spring that way—surprising
             and many petaled,

the kick and leap of gold grasshoppers at my brow.

I am struck in the witched hours of want—

I want her green life. Her inside me
in a green hour I can’t stop.
             Green vein in her throat green wing in my mouth

green thorn in my eye. I want her like a river goes, bending.
Green moving green, moving.

Fast as that, this is how it happens—
             soy una sonámbula.

And even though you said today you felt better,
and it is so late in this poem, is it okay to be clear,
             to say, I don’t feel good,

to ask you to tell me a story
about the sweet grass you planted—and tell it again
             or again—

until I can smell its sweet smoke,
             leave this thrashed field, and be smooth.


Copyright © 2017 by Natalie Diaz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 5, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The desire field is a space bloomed of tension—the body’s fire, and its smoke when those fires quiet. (I am told they will quiet.) In these ever-green wind-bent star-strewn blades of worry and field, spinning until lost, I can rename the burdens of my heart—and offer the body back to language, to be carried, to be grinded into love and what is good. What if I call my anxiety desire? What if I rename this terrible thing as wanting and blossoming with touch? Why not let all bodies—my own body included—be the beloved and possible of offering me a smooth place to rest?

(“From the Desire Field” is a poem-letter to my friend Ada Limón. We have written into each other over the past few months. The space between our poems has become a kingdom I wander, along whose streets my griefs and anxieties move in new ways—they are unashamed and unafraid to be seen into. The gift of shamelessness: because I am writing only across our small kingdom, to an amiga/amor/hermana.)”
—Natalie Diaz


Natalie Diaz

Natalie Diaz’s most recent book is Postcolonial Love Poem (Graywolf Press, 2020). She is Director of the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands and is the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe, and lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

Date Published: 2017-06-05

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