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Face down, I lay outstretched,
the smells of warm stone,
eucalyptus and
dry grass fill my nostrils.
Sand and rock press my cheek,
sunlight prickles my naked
back and thighs.

I have come to be summer
in the chapparal,
to feel this place
with its sharp edges and heat,
smell its obsidian odors,
taste sand and sweat
and long afternoons,
see its intensity as hummers
flit and lizards roll stones.

Chapparal does not easily
reveal its secret life:
It is too compact
for soft thinking.
This is no place for gentleness.

My thoughts
become as sharp as
the alligator lizard’s scale,
As bristled as the chinquipin’s seed pod.
They scratch through my mind
Like a thrasher searching
for insects in the soil beneath manzanitas.

I shed my skin
and become
something far older;
leathered and wrinkled
by the wisdom
of sunlight.

—Brigit Thomas
Copyright 2004

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