The late poet Reginald Shepherd called Kenny Fries “a poet of the luminous moment and the luminous landscape,” a title Fries more than lives up to in this poem.
Full Moon, White Sands
I do not understand perception
until we pitch our tent on the ridge
of the dune, until we shiver
—seeing white, thinking snow,
even though it is seventy degrees.
Surrounded by icebergs of sand
we are eating dinner when we see
the streak of hot pink beyond
the western mountains. As the light
fades, a violet sheen descends
and heading back, climbing mound
after mound, I wonder: where
is the moon? You have reached the crest
When I hear you moan: Oh,
my god, and when I too reach the top
the largest, most orange orb
risen from the distant ground.
It hangs there. Perfectly
round. Coming close to you
I think how nothing forced us
to make camp here but the direction
of the wind. In the tent we keep
the entrance open so we can see it rise
steadily in the sky. Tonight,
an ancient eye is watching
and I am levitating
above all the primary colors
reflected in the endless alabaster sea.
When we touch we are the exposed
particles of selenite breaking down,
turning white at each point of impact
—diamonds cut by glass.
It is then I enter it,
first my toes, then my hands,
my entire body rooting into the sand.
With the imprints of the whipping
lizard’s tail, along the thin trail
left by the tiny stink bug
I will leave my track—
Looking out at the miles and miles of whiteness
formed thousands of years ago and each
minute by the wind,
what we perceive is formed
not only by reflection,
but together with our expectation.
Originally Published in Desert Walking: Poems (The Advocado Press, 2000)
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