O'Keeffe-BearLake-600
MOVING TO THE DESERT
by Ronald Baatz

I cannot live here when I am old.
It is too cold for many months out of the year.
As it is, I am having a rough time dealing with

the cold now. When I am old I want to live
in the desert. I suppose this is a common goal
for people who live in the cold. Although, thankfully,

this past winter was a blessing, so unbelievably mild was it.
The morning newspaper explains why
there is such an abundance of yellow jackets.

I was stung recently. I was sitting on the green lawn chair
at the back of the house, minding my own business, reading,
when suddenly I felt an itch on my leg. As I scratched this itch,

one of these yellow jackets let me have it. It had managed to crawl
up my leg, underneath my pants. After stinging me
it fell to the ground and walked away; for some reason not flying,

perhaps too exhausted from having stung me.
My first instinct was to kill it; instead I just moved away from it.
I will leave these heavenly purple mountains to the bugs and the bears

and whatever else wants to claim them as their own.
I do not want to be exposed to such cold when I am old.
I want to bake in the sun. I want to be like a dried fig.

If I had money, then living here would not be such a hardship.
I’d be able to defend myself from the cold with money.
But there is none, and there appears to be nothing I can do

to rectify this problem. I live where the winters are harsh and
I have no way of keeping myself warm. I am profoundly disappointed
in myself. I will not even have the money necessary to move

to the desert when the time comes. So why do I even talk about it,
dream about it. I have been pathetic at creating a decent income.
I will die in this lousy cold. I can see it all now: when I die

others will come to take my body away, my belongings.
They will make a thorough search of my room for money
that I might have hidden away, and they will find not a dime.

Then they will unearth thousands
of poems, and they will know why.

Woodstock, 1985

IMAGE: “Desert Abstraction (Bear Lake)” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1931).

Ronald Baatz

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ronald Baatz lives in Troy, New York, with his wife Andra and their cat Mooche. His last book, Bird Standing, was published by Blind Dog Press in Australia.