by Melissa Bernal Austin

but I won’t water the grass this year.
I can’t bring myself to force
a thing to grow where it doesn’t want to.
Insisting on the recreation of
an idea I don’t even believe in – a green lawn
in this desert, more desert than ever before.
It’s crass.
Reification of a sense of time and place
so far gone, the color
doesn’t show up right on film.
No blades, all blur.

I am happy to let the desert be the desert. Let it
change all on its own.
I know very well where I live.
I can still coax tomatoes from the vine, along with
squash and sharp romero – its fragrance
stoically guarding the door. Marigolds
guarding the plants,
brash as the sun at 3pm. The 3pm heat
flirting with the softening asphalt, summoning
rippling waves like dancers to the floor.

Melissa Bernal Austin is a queer Latine writer, artist, and educator in El Paso, TX. Spotted in the wild, they’ll typically be covered in cat hair, paint, and/or dirt. Their work can be found in Longleaf Review, Pidgeonholes, Best Small Fictions, Dreginald, The Boiler, and more. More of their work and projects can be found online at @house.gnome and @mbernalaustin (Substack).