When I last travelled the desert, I passed this one empty house. It was along a flat stretch of highway. A straight away nearly twelve miles long. Springtime was busting out. The desert filling with promise. Green spotted the hills and I could see dots of little yellow flowers. And rain.
Rain was loving the distant hills. I watched it happen – off where the land sweeps up out of its flatness. Reaching for sustenance. Or that’s what it seemed like. There is not much vegetation really. A few juniper. Sage. Ahead and to either side were shimmering mirages of heat. Bruised, purpling clouds held the horizon.
The house I passed was a place for cows now. Wind battered the loosening roof. I know because I stopped. Turned around and went back. I stood in the dusty yard and listened to branches scrap against the wooden shakes. Music of some sort. Like ravens talking. Cows wandered willy nilly along the road. Some settled under the canopy of a lone cottonwood – so tall it shaded both the house and yard.
Someone had sprayed God Is Here across the white stucco walls. Right near the front door though there was no door – just a gaping void. And the shattered glass of the windows littered the ground. You could not see anything inside. Only a darkness. Not god. Who knows, maybe god was there. Lived there. Built himself a house and let it fall to ruin.
There is that kind of god, I suppose. The god of forsaken places. The god of lost objects. The god of the weathered and wearied. Objects of desire once. Pleasing things. That are left behind. Abandoned eventually. I mean it is curious to speculate, isn’t it? How things get to be this way.
Like you’re just thirsting along, waiting for rain, hoping to bloom. Maybe you’re driving. Enjoying the day. You and the crows and the cows. Then there’s this place. This house. The unsettled sky, and a roof rasping. You detect a sorrow maybe. A long stretch of empty. The distant notes of your own dusty decay.