Cynthia Anderson





There are reasons

to leave this world


and reasons to stay.

You’re bewitched


by paradox: a marsh

in the desert, flux


on fractured earth.

You arrive early,


follow the boardwalk

walled on both sides


by dense thickets—

clap your hands


or stomp your feet,

strain for a reply—


a dry, raspy laugh

in the soggy bottom


that comes from a bird

you hear but never see—


who chose long ago

not to live among people,


but keep them guessing.

If a rail calls and there’s


no one to hear it,

does it make a sound?


That laugh is more

than an answer—


it’s the promise

of the feral.



Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Askew, Dark Matter, Apercus QuarterlyWhale Road, Knot Magazine, and Origami Poems Project. She is the author of six collections—In the Mojave, Desert Dweller, Mythic Rockscapes/Barker Dam, Mythic Rockscapes/Hidden Valley, and Shared Visions I and II. She frequently collaborates with her husband, photographer Bill Dahl. Cynthia co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens.