Mojave Desert ||| A Lamp Brighter Than Foxfire

Something will crawl out of it.

There’s some mammal I know by the smell

of its matted fur, some four legs

I couldn’t get past in a dream.

I’ve waited half a dozen years

and only saw a rat

crawl into a tree and become a tree.

Every grain of skin turns into sand.


Mojave tells me

every loss that comes back from its fasting

comes back as a gift:

I had a home and it left and came back

as a sky of negative space;

I had a hand and it left and came back

with five scars rhyming stars.


My hands cup a spring,

and five stars in the spring

open as desert lilies in spring.

The animals crawl out to see them.

Only one day of spring.

A year of no spring.

Spring had a day and it left, and the desert

came back to flood every dune with full bloom.


Andrew S. Nicholson is assistant professor-in-residence at the University of Nevada, where he received his PhD as a Schaeffer Fellow in Poetry. He received his MFA from California College of the Arts. His poetry has appeared in Colorado Review, Witness, Tarpaulin Sky, and Eleven Eleven, and he has been an artist-in-residence at the Palazzo Rinaldi in Noepoli, Italy.

“Mojave Desert” is from A Lamp Brighter Than Foxfire, published by The Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University. Copyright 2015 by Andrew S. Nicholson.