The Soft Beat of a Desert at Night

Long after sunset crosses the warm desert ground, the wind still rumbles through the sagebrush scraping up the songs written all through the heat of the day.  After dark, the wind sings life into everything, as if rustling sticks and blowing dust were the soup of a cold winter day.  Cricket songs punctuate the spaces between the waning breeze. Then, late in the evening, it all drops off.  The wind falls to a whisper, the crickets part ways one by one, opening the door to the vast emptiness.  Miles of quiet calm sneak across the mountains, float down to the desert floor, and stretch the edges of this place.  I can’t hear the last breaths of air above my own thoughts anymore. Walking is now a noisy affair – each little grain of sand under foot crying out in the warm night air. Something has paused.  I can’t stand to sit still now, some lonely discomfort from inside that shuns this dark, still openness. This is now a place of excruciating silence and aloneness. How can it be possible for such a big, open place to come to such a sudden, silent stop? Now, the dividing line between places within me and around me slowly dissolve.

I can’t stand to move, fearing that I might step on that one dry stick, sending a crack through the night, hurling me off some edge that gets conjured up somewhere out there.  And on the edge of movement, a soft, cool breeze rustles across the tops of the brush, setting a distant cricket off in solo song to the soft beat of emptiness.

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