Nothin' Fades Like the Light

August 10, 2020 /
 Ivanna English


Howl, like I do, into the barren desert with the dotted sky. Out, comes the desert flower from the hard earth, blooming under the cover of the moon. Dizzying, fragrant and fabled, it reminds me of that love I have concealed for you.

Grip slackens and the sun loses its place over distant indigo mountains, faint fingers slipping from the horizon. The hard land below in contrast with peachy hues painted by the weary hand. Each one is the same; none are the same. Light fade and come to life — the ritual slowly begins, awaken the spirit. Wild coyote, small and brave, cries for the companionship of the moon. Watch over me tonight, keep me company as the chill of the desert descends over the last living creatures, prickly, brown. My story can’t be shared with anyone, but like the lonely coyote, I share it with my celestial guardian. Under the veil of night, I conceal this part of me. Fear me like the deafening rattle without knowing its source. You couldn’t understand, even if you wanted to. But to see the venomous fangs of that viper would only breed misunderstanding. It bites the heel and the overwhelmed heart bursts. Somewhere, in a distant land, it might be easier. But this is all I’ve ever known. On the starlit path back home, the soft crackling of poor connection … Dolly … suddenly, I am not alone.

Plucking on the Spanish guitar, someday you’ll be a star. Reassurance that maybe one day I can share myself, my whole self, with the world. To no longer hide, to not howl a lonely cry. It’s a story with a melody, can’t you see? It ebbs. Flows. The tragedies behind closed doors and the words unspoken pour out in flats and sharps, tuneless and two strings missing. Maybe I don’t have to suspend my roots to find freedom. How could I leave behind all that I’ve known? How could I go back? I cannot take back the words; my mother cannot take back hers. Will she ever love me again? Why, oh, why. I think I did see my old man cry. What do you do, what do you say? The infertile lands remember my cry. Ride, ride, ride, in the dead of night, where scaled and scurrying creatures are the most alive when the most fragrant flowers bloom without fear of scorching. Silence is drowned by cries, calls, hoofbeats, wind rushing fast, faster, faster.

Nestled in the canyons of your neck, my head is turned to the stained chestnut wooden flooring and I am transfixed by a wet speck, about the size of a dime, in the middle of the dancehall. Was it sweat, squeezed out from between the bodies of the multitudes of lovers parading about the hall in heels and hooves? Or was it more? A tear, a single tear caressing a cheek in disbelief that one should be so lucky as to hold their lover so close in a public space — a space that isn’t always welcome to people like us. Your arms are a shelter, a hearth burning bright in the bitter cold of the desert night. For hours, we watch it give into the morning; it’s different from the burning dusk. The lavender, menacing? No, promising. Promise of a love that longed for, no longer concealed, never let it fade like the evening light. ■

Story by
Ivanna English.

Jennifer Jimenez.

Kaia Daniel.

Shannon Homan.

Sarah Stiles.

Ricky Martinez.

View the full spread as it appeared in Issue No. 18 here.
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