I note that we're walled in by cirrhotic mountains under a blue sky dulled by dusty haze. This must be it. Is it what you said it was to you? I don't know because you never said. The land is flat, the dirt like sand. Branches reach up like hands with broken knuckles, blackened like they'd spontaneously combusted or some bored god had struck them down. The cacti are like cartoons. Every once in a mile there's a procession of power lines, crosses like anonymous graves.

The small dry bushes seem planted until I realize their pattern suggests immense root systems supporting the spidery tufts above ground, straining after incidental underground water molecules, crushing more timid vegetation. And there are patterns of bleached motorhomes, as well. As though the retirees thought mold was more likely to kill them than cancer.

On the freeway you can feel the thoughts of the elderly. Feel this road full of the ghosts of large American cars. Feel what it must have been like half a century ago when a desert was something you conquered in a Cadillac, not knowing you'd return in your twilight years, hat in hand, to escape the Starbucks of the world and burn to dust in peace.

I bet there are bones out there under those tires. And that the dirt reaches onto the road to claim those who slow down, to drag the willing into the fire.

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