Leave your troubles at the borders of the thirsty country –
here, pile them on this cairn to mark the way
for other travelers, and put your clothes there too –
let that old sun god see you shambling naked in the desert.

Paint yourself in ocher and step lightly on the shards
of ancient mountains. Let the honey and the locusts
come clacking from your mouth –
you are not wanted till you make your sacrifice
of blood and skin, everything bites here.

Let the thirsty country drink you up –
bone dry, as the potters say before the fire –
this is not the place of your unfolding, your salvation –
it’s the place from which you must be saved.

– This is the thirsty country –

And I will tell you that it does not care about your pain.
Thirsty countries rarely do.

Andrew Marshall is an artist living and working in the Southwest. He believes in the spirituality of everyday life, man’s connection to the land, and the Oxford comma.