Wilderness is not a Luxury

Desert Globe Mallow

Desert Globe Mallow © 2012 Bo Mackison

Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of human spirit. ~ Edward Abbey

The desert expands and seeps into my vision,
the floor is ocean, odd twisted creatures,
and the cactus-corals are prescient.

When the ocean — tiding by lunar pull — disappears
the desert returns, a remnant of ancient ocean,
fossil, a testimonial embedded in rock,
geologic band of aquatic life remembered only in stone.

I too will be remembered only in stone.

When I swim too far from the shore of this desert,
stray into the repeating saguaro-ocotillo wilderness,
I stop, afraid to cross the sand arroyo

Descend into this dry bed,
and reach the blooming oranges and yellows that thrive on the edges.
I take my chances, there are times I cannot manage.

shadows are longest when the sun heaves herself
onto the desert floor and again when she
slips off the desert and drops from the horizon.

Even the longest shadows disappear in the
blotting dark of night,
dark skies are coming — no
they are here.

This cold monument to the dark,
desert monolith, see the shooting star emerge from clouds,
momentary, streak of light, I blink and it is gone.
Or was it even there?

I rub creosote leaves between my index finger and thumb,
smell the pungent aroma of preservative,
lie down to rest upon the packing quilt, a U Haul relic,
and wait for the desert to spit her rain.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC, living and photographing in southern Arizona.

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. You got it exactly right. The area from Phoenix to Tucson used to be an inland sea, and it looks like that now, too. Love the poem. Hope you get some rain.

  2. Just amazing. Thank you for taking me there with you.

  3. Amen

  4. This is simply beautiful. All of it. The orange color is exquisite!

  5. While typically not a earthy orange ‘fan’, I find this shot quite beautiful.

  6. Wonderful image. Love those colors, and how they are repeated through the image. The diagonal works well. The flowers seem to be reaching out.

  7. Your poem brings tears to my eyes. It’s incredible the way you captured the desert through your words. Images of the desert flashed through my mind like I was looking through one of those old-fashioned Viewfinders…think that’s what they were called. “I too will be remembered only in stone.” OMG, Bo.

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