If you ask where to run mid-afternoon in Tucson
front desk will kindly suggest
treadmills and pool on the sixth floor
They might know a lawsuit is at risk.
“Don’t tell the patrons how to run to the trail.”
It’s under the interstate and the sidewalks fry eggs.
The heat will pre-sap the sweat from all your pores
as if dryness were Calvinist, predestined.
Turn the corner and there are two (count them) two
ice cream shops. Buy two scoops, watermelon and peppermint.
Then run. Run fast enough and nobody feels the heat,
like the salsa isn’t spicy until you stop eating it.
The ice cream won’t melt. Soon the city isn’t gentrified
and you’re passing the federal building, standing as it does
on pillars of stone separating it from the ground,
as if federally-funded buildings are UFOS temporarily landed.
Keep running. Bus riders will stare. They ignore the ice cream.
It’s your sweat they want to lick. You are salt in winter.
At some point you begin to forget the coworking officeand the men’s next level grooming and the yoga mats
and all you can taste is the residual shampoo on your tongue.
This is another planet. Men appear out of nowhere,
migrant mirages, each of them carrying giant 7-11 cups
full of water, for which I won’t exchange ice cream.
The river bed is dry. So dry the bones have turned to sand.
The trees are watered with reclaimed water.
Reclaimed from hotel showers or groomed men?
I could stay out here on The Loop, in heat hot enough
to blister toes, but my ice cream won’t melt.
It’s then that I see it. Over the smell of melon and mint.
A hawk swoops across the path and snags a snake.
At first it struggles for lift, talons piercing scales.
As if a hipster could water a desert with money from one hose.
My ancestors came through this desert. That’s a lie.
But it feels like they did. Like they could have come this way.
I’d like to think the ice cream could find its way back up the hose.