Moses and the Combustible Tablets



It rained that night over Bakersfield,
pouring over horse troughs, pounding
our mobile trailer top as if Charlie Watts
were playing it, coating endless acres
until puddles the size of kiddie pools
crept from mesquite bush to creosote
dipped poles, dry arroyos became rivers
bristling with life, engulfing all in their wake.

Where these torrents snaked to, we never knew
was it the convergence of horizon and sky’s end?
This vastness squarming with particles of atomic
bombs from Nevada, zeons from hairspray cans,
lazy blue, symbolic as wooden crosses springing
up a few days before Easter Sunday. It was clear,
the trailer windows were clean, scoured by a grit
in the hands of a west-blowing zephyr, ultimately

licked cloudless by tongues that were invisible to us.
In the morning, this god-forsaken place was paradise,
in every meaning of the word. The beat-up Datsun
truck was freed from a permanent coating of soot,
your T-shirt clinging to the fine tune of your arms,
its V neck displaying a playing field of chest hair. 
Velveeta on white bread tasted just fine toasted
in our tiny oven as we sat facing each other

on vinyl-covered benches, my fingers gripping
the aluminum strip that girdled the table, you
said, "Rain is good.” To me, your face looked
in that spilt second, soft as a tabby’s, sweet
and smooth as the bell of an oak’s last acorn.

C. Inathe Marshall received an MFA in Creative Writing from California
State University, Long Beach, in 2011. She was poetry editor for ARTLIFE
zine and her poems have appeared in Convergence, 
2004, ArtLife, 
24th Anniversary Issue, 2004, Verdad Magazine, 2009, Spillway, 2010, 
RipRap, 2011, The Packinghouse Review, 2012, Beyond the Lyric
Moment: Poetry Inspired by Workshops with David St. John, 2014 
and ELKE, 2016. She was the December 2016 Fairhope Center for
the Writing Arts Writer-In-Residence. Readings include Pure Products,
Northport, Alabama and the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival
in January 2017.


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