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(Journada del Muerto New Mexico,

July 1945)

Let not this heat dispirit me

that streams so fierce it blisters skin

past gaps which cover miles

or blinding light that turns the

blue hills white; but then the wind

a dragon’s breath that flattens scrub

and banshees on as though to

never end – but then a growl

that rumbles like the heaving earth

might rise, cascading in an

angry swirl to coffin

up scorched observation posts.

Please god, the work was fire: six

years of sweated midnight math,

precision lathing, shouted

disagreements while our soup

or scrambled eggs grew cold. The

path Prometheus took, made new.

What batters now no witness

on this Dead Men’s Trail dares say.

Ears plugged, we brace with stunned

relief against the booming

air -- exhale, and glance away.

First published in Spectral Lines: Poems About Scientists (Alternating Current Press, 2019)

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