Twenty stories high above the desert
with its morning shadows, like the face of a woman wearing
a wide-brimmed hat, you stand quietly so that you won’t
wake
your husband, who sleeps like a tired gardener,
his hands brown from Michigan summer
labor—tomatoes, gypsy peppers, sweet basil and sun flowers.

You love this time of day when the hotel-bordering flowers,
—pansies like eyes and snap dragons like mouths—even
in this desert,
hold dew. To some, this world is beyond summer;
but not to you, a California Girl who will grow old wearing
blue jeans and T-shirts. Your Beefmaster Tomato-gardener
husband loves this city of mirages later in the day, when
it is awake,

But you love it in the morning light before others wake
up and drink their coffee. You are the gypsy flower
at the 6 a.m. blackjack table. Steel Man, husband-gardener
loves his Keno games, tends the numbers. You prefer to
sit with these desert
cactus, old timers who’ve stayed up all night wearing
cigarettes growing inch-long ash from their mouths. Summer

long-gone, their wrinkled wintry hands stack up the chips.
Summer
is a joke to them, here where they’re always awake.

They’ve been around the clock; humor this Snapdragon-lady,
who wearing
her night of sleep like a sprinklered flower,
sits down at their table in the early morning desert.
They know an inhospitable garden and its harsh gardener.

They know that Steel Man sleeping upstairs is not such a
gardener.
They know hard summer;
her wide-brimmed hat shadowing her old face, Dame Desert
is a survivalist. They’ve learned this staying up all night,
awake,
playing blackjack at basil green tables. They could be
sunflowers,
big-rooted, heavy-headed, wearing

Sandy cigarette ash, which has fallen over them for hours;
wearing
the cards like rows of seeds. She is their gardener.
They laugh at nursery-grown flowers
like me. Summer
snapdragons or pansies, newly awake
at 6 a.m. on their private desert.

A desert where they stay up all night wearing
tough, dusty foliage. I love to see Her wake in them, this
gardener
of summer morning blackjack players, these old desert
sunflowers.


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