Ashley Inguanta

Once, I Was New To America’s West

Sometimes it’s as simple as this: Saying goodbye
to a good friend, a new friend, as she drives off
to the mountains. She will be back, and you know
this, but as she runs to her car with a bowl of fruit,
wet hair, bare feet, you understand that some bonds
are destined to be quick in their formation. You are
not the smooth, clear lines of granite boulders, but
a vessel for fundamentals: Raise your arms up,
swan dive forward. Step your right leg back, press
through your heel—feel your body become, become.

When you leave this life, this fast and bright
existence in the Mojave, for the swamplands
of home, you can’t help but wonder if the Florida
alligators will eat you alive. Their justification:
She was a city woman then; she’s a desert rat now.
But you know better.

You are swamp and steel and drought. When you
hiked miles and miles to that desert oasis, you did not
find water. Instead, you saw two bighorn sheep,
and something dropped from your body: The weight
of your vertebrae, maybe, or perhaps
the piece of your spirit your past lover took,
recklessly and without apology.

Maybe it became a new star, or a stone fruit
with a pit of gold. Whatever it was, it fell
from you, and the bighorn sheep saw it,

and the swamp creatures may not even
recognize you as you drive home, as you step
onto the damp land, as you kiss it.


Ashley Inguanta’s new poetry collection is out today. Get it from Gainesville indie bookstore Third House Books.

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