The Feel of the Path – A Prayer of Desert Petition

Palo Verde

I walk and walk and walk.
Through scrub land and foothills, through the desert, into the arroyo, up into the high canyons
where palo verde accent the desert green with yellow blossoms

Slowly. In an attempt to memorize each step,
consider the existence of each lizard that skitters under rocks at my approach,
study the tall saguaro, the one that speaks to me in our silent language.

Texas Canyon, Arizona

There are the Texas Canyon boulders that balance with delicate precision,
boulders upon boulders, the giants’ cairns.

There are the trees dead in the grasslands, choked dry

Road to Nowhere

There is the agave, its flowers long ago spent, its seed heads crispy brown,
standing tall in the ruts of an abandoned road.

Rattlesnake Courtesy

There is my reawakened respect for the western rattler,
most plentiful and most dangerous of Arizona snakes.

I watched it rise three feet and rattle like dried chimes,
then zip into the thick grasses of the arroyo.
Left me standing at the arroyo’s edge, breathless,
looking at the emptiness where it had flashed me warning.

A Day at the Gardens

There is wonder at my daily sightings of a mama and papa quail,
their brood of chicks darting like scattered billiards balls,
each pecking for seeds in the rocky soil.

On hot afternoons the adults settle upon the earth like ancient ocean puffer balls,
and keep watch over their babies tucked under a staghorn cholla, an unlikely nesting hideout.

Tree Gnarls

There are only memories of the gray dove perched upon the adobe wall
and the Coopers hawk’s swoop from behind.
Memories of the clutch of talons,
the dove’s disappearance amidst an explosion of feathers.

I gathered feathers from the tiled porch for a week
while pondering the order, and disorder, of nature.


This is a rough land, yet it fits my temperament.

Its wildness is a comfort,
its unexpected lushness a gift,
its unrelenting demands a lesson in awareness,
its solitude a rarity,
its brilliant sun-drenched land a tonic,
its dark skies a reminder of the need for rest.

Montezuma Castle

How old the land upon which I walk,
ancient volcanic rock cold upon the hot desert earth.
And fossils of trilobites and shark teeth document this land’s history, how amazing the story.

Billions of years of tiny changes.


And so I walk and walk, and walk more. Relentless.
And commit to memory what I see,
Reminders that though I leave, I will  return.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Your feel of the path, this prayer, stuns in its gritty glory. The images you choose to share grace your words with such beauty, such power. This may be one of my favorite posts of yours. The quail’s eggs seem safely tucked inside circles; what IS that lovely wood with yet more circles?; I must go find my pics of Montezuma’s Castle. Thank you for this today, my friend!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      This happens to be one of my favorite posts too, and yet I wrote it with no planning, just an expression of the emotions and many of the experiences I noticed in the back arroyo. It gives me a sense of connection to talk the land at this time, to memorize certain spaces. I;ll collect a few desert tokens – seed heads, twigs, rocks – and bring them with me when I leave. It is one of many of the ways I am creatively taking leave of this space and making room to welcome the new. It is a process, for sure.

  2. So beautiful and enchanting…….yes Bo, though I leave I will return…….

    • Bo Mackison says:

      As with any land, any land one takes the time to get to intimately know, there is the precious and the dangerous, the birth, death, and rebirth. I tried to capture that feeling in this – with the strong intention that even though I prepare to leave, I also will return.

  3. Gandalf says:

    Reminds me of EE Cummings – flowing stream of consciousness. Very interesting, deep feelings and connection.

  4. We’ll keep it warm for you, but not dust-free! You have much to live and experience in the Midwest, and then, when you come back, much to re-discover here. If you lived here all the time, you might get used to it all. This makes it special.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      As I work through this approaching transition, I discover that creative work can both help me say goodbye, prepare me to re-enter the Midwest, and give me much to look forward to when I return.

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