110 Degrees and No Relief in Sight

My mother was a widow in the desert.
I will be next, but I don’t know when.

I fool myself as I look in the mirror,
note my cheek bloom
and determined clench.

Though I outlast everyone,
one day I will lie down
in the same gully, surrender
to the third shift gatekeepers.

All of us crouched
together in scrub brush,
waiting for my number to appear.

The forest no longer wants me,
spits its poison into my lungs,
comes with a price tag I can’t afford.

My ancestors wore dark boots
with laces, and that was enough.
Predators dispatched with clubs and guns.
Acres of trees, sacrificed for shelter.

I am too bloated to fight.
Too fond of comfort.
You were too, until the invaders
crept inside your body as you slept.

The lesson is you never can sleep.
Your eyes must always be open,
to spot all the mistakes
others will make at your expense.

My desert homework was not to trust.
My mother taught me early.

LEAH MUELLER is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Bisbee, Arizona. She has published books with numerous small presses. Her most recent volumes, Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices (Czykmate Press), Death and Heartbreak (Weasel Press), and Cocktails at Denny's (Alien Buddha Press) were released in 2019. Leah’s work appears or is forthcoming in Blunderbuss, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Bad Pony, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and other publications. She won an honorable mention in the 2012 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry contest.