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Valley of Fire
     after Ada Limón
by Gisella Faggi

I’m envious of how and what this land has survived,
               more than 150 million
years of faulting, shifting, and scarring.

Is it resilience alone? Because, when I look out
across this barren, inhospitable land, it seems like
more than that, like pure spite, the earth contemptuous
as it pushes every living thing from it like a poison.

There are days when surviving seems an impossible thing.

Orange veins throb against marbled rock. The sun beats
against soft sand, stone iron-hot to the touch.
The red of the desert mirrors the red of rage,
the red of a heart.

Is this what it feels like to always be burning?

Still, the spiraling sandstone rises in a disorderly
riot like a giant “fuck you” to the earth
below, the sun above, mocking them both,
a provocation.

How I want nothing more than to stand tall as these red rocks
               and, like them,
laugh in the face of the thing trying to kill me.

PHOTO: Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada, by Esudroff, used by permission. NOTE: Valley of Fire State Park, located 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas, covers nearly 46,000 acres. The park  derives its name from red sandstone formations, the Aztec Sandstone, that formed from shifting sand dunes 150 million years ago. (Source: Wikipedia)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gisella Faggi’s short fiction and poetry have appeared in So to Speak, About Place Journal, and War, Literature & the Arts, among others. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has received awards and fellowships from 33 Officina Creativa, Columbia College Chicago, and the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Find her online at