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The Wonder of it All


Linda Dousay

Who knows where anything really begins—
For me, it may have started on the Mother Road—
Route 66 from Needles to Barstow—
Retracing the steps of Ma and Pa Joad,
I watched sweat drip from Daddy's face—
and a man, hovering, watching, waiting,
while Daddy hung a rented swamp cooler
from Mama's window. No siree, the man said,
you can’t cross this desert without one—
Heat'll do strange things to the mind

I was 7 years old. It was 1958—
We crossed that burning desert
lost in the wonder of desolate ranges—
yellow, purple and red mountains
popping up out of blue and gray basins—
volcanic domes, flows and mesas
scattered throughout seas of sand, rock,
empty highway, prickly pear cactus,
clouds, and shimmering waves of heat—
and soft humming filling our car
with scent of aspen and damp winter air—

Or, maybe it started in the caverns
of Carlsbad. I sat close to Mama—
speechless—as hundreds of thousands
of bats flew in one spiraling motion—
up, out of the cave, over our heads
and into the setting sun—We can't go in,
Daddy whispered, until they come out.

Then I followed Mama




deep into a dark wet world of massive stone,
chilling shadows and echoing hollows—
along winding pathways through razor sharp
edges of towering stalagmites, gigantic,
glowing stalactites—around swirling pools
of purple water, through tall swinging doors
into the lights of a large dining hall—
where hundreds of people were lining up
to sit down, to eat and drink, to talk and pray.

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