Size / / /

Deserts sometimes dream of water.
Lost lakes gleam in the noon heat shimmer,
rippling faintly just above the ground --
the juniper sways in remnant currents,
remembers seaweed,
and impertinent fish.

You think you can feel it;
a cool breath chills your sweat,
and your cheek turns with the tide.
The lakes might have lived forever,
but drought came, water drained away,
and the fish crawled into stones to sleep.
You can find them still,
at Green River, in Wyoming,
where incandescent sand blew in on the west wind.

The corpses of lakes filled with camels,
with pronghorn antelope,
with the many wild dancers
for whom the desert was a keyhole,
through which they hastened out of the past,
water drying on their backs,
into the rejuvenated sun.

But on moonlit nights,
sky clear all the way up to the stars,
and coyotes strangely still,
the deserts sometimes dream of water,
and great fish swim, untroubled by the absent sun,
and scorn abandoned hooks,
their ancient scales shining with the moon.


Copyright © 2001 by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Reader Comments

David C. Kopaska-Merkel is a geologist and poet from Virginia. His poetry and fiction have been published in venues such as Night Cry, Space and Time, Eldritch Tales, and The Magazine of Speculative Poetry. His latest chapbook is Results of a preliminary investigation of electrochemical properties of some organic matrices. For more information, visit David online.

David C. Kopaska-Merkel has 1200+ published poems, short stories, etc. (since 1972). He won the Rhysling Award for best long poem in 2006 for a collaboration with Kendall Evans. His latest book is The Ambassador Takes One For The Team, a collection of speculative poetry. Blog at @DavidKM on Twitter.
Current Issue
20 Mar 2023

Strange Horizons will be open to fiction submissions on April 26th, 2023, at 9 a.m. UTC! To keep our response times manageable and submission windows more frequent, there will be a 1,000-story cap on submissions.
It started with a bit of music, something no one else was even listening to.
My father’s favorite nebula, Lemon Slice, is named after his favorite dessert.
The Police are dancing under the red lights / without their heads
Monday: Full Immersion by Gemma Amor 
Wednesday: Locklands by Robert Jackson Bennett 
Issue 13 Mar 2023
Issue 6 Mar 2023
Issue 20 Feb 2023
Issue 13 Feb 2023
Issue 6 Feb 2023
Issue 30 Jan 2023
By: Catherine Rockwood
By: Romie Stott
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Catherine Rockwood
Podcast read by: Romie Stott
Podcast read by: Maureen Kincaid Speller
Issue 23 Jan 2023
Issue 16 Jan 2023
Issue 9 Jan 2023
Strange Horizons
2 Jan 2023
Welcome, fellow walkers of the jianghu.
Load More
%d bloggers like this: