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Augustin S. Macdonald, comp. A Collection of Verse by California Poets. 1914.

By Madge Morris Wagner

To the Colorado Desert

THOU brown, bare-breasted, voiceless mystery,

Hot sphinx of nature, cactus-crowned, what hast thou done?

Unclothed and mute as when the groans of chaos turned

Thy naked burning bosom to the sun.

The mountain silences have speech, the rivers sing.

Thou answerest never unto anything.

Pink-throated lizards pant in thy slim shade;

The horned toad runs rustling in the heat;

The shadowy gray coyote, born afraid,

Steals to some brackish spring and laps, and prowls

Away, and howls and howls and howls and howls,

Until the solitude is shaken with an added loneliness.

Thy sharp mescal shoots up a giant stalk,

Its century of yearning, to the sunburnt skies,

And drips rare honey from the lips

Of yellow waxen flowers, and dies.

Some lengthwise sun-dried shapes with feet and hands

And thirsty mouths pressed on the sweltering sands,

Mark here and there a gruesome graveless spot

Where some one drank thy scorching hotness, and is not.

God must have made thee in his anger, and forgot.