Desert Quartet

by Alida Woods

For Terry Tempest Williams

Things change slowly in the desert.
Wind, rain, fire
wrestle with sentinels
risen from a primordial sea.
The great Colorado Plateau
stretches across millennia.
Particle by particle
the face of the red rock
revises choreography.
Taupe, mauve, turquoise
narrate the uplift.
Sand dunes fold over petrified beaches.
Things change in the desert.
Wind, rain, fire, Man.

Things move quickly in the desert.
darts for shade
under the rabbit bush.
Canyon wren
flits between cracks of
Navajo sandstone,
her tee-tee-tew-tew-tew-tew
descending down the canyon.
And, always, the river
pounding through labial rock
exhorting the unaware,
like Raven,
harbinger of Change.

Time is eternal is the desert.
Handprints in stone haunt
ancient boulevards.
Stories etched on canyon walls
render the passage of Time.
Here, rocks tell time differently.
is the fullness
of space
in the desert.
that eliminates

Death by starvation is slow.
Darwin was right.
Centuries of people
farmed these grasslands,
dwelling in limestone cliffs
leaving their stories sculpted
by Time
and history's imagination.
Things change slowly,
left to their own Devices.
Wind, rain, fire,


Alida Woods is a retired educator who lives in Asheville, having spent the last thirty-seven years working for public schools.

About Desert Quartet—Inspired by fellow poets, I humbly submit this tribute to the Southwest, another geography that has captured my soul.