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Why Can’t We Save Ourselves

Kayla Haas | Terri Kelleher

Sometimes I go deep, deep inside myself. A sort of walkabout for the inner-mind, but it happens almost every month, instead of at a significant age. It’s not a natural feeling, and it never will be. I hear others talk about their sad moments, and how they slip into them as I would slip into a lavender night gown before bed. They make it sound so soft, so soothing. Like the slipping is a moment I should crave.

I don’t slip though, I tumble. I fall. My knees get scratched down the face of a cliff, and the coyotes snuff at my broken body with bloodied muzzles, as vultures circle above. The desert is such a lonely place—inhospitable.

My mind is a desert. It is full of wool pajamas, sand in boots, and scorpions crawling around at night. It is west Texas in midsummer. Blaringly bright, hot, and sweaty in the afternoon, and cold and frigid when the stars come out.

He says to me, “Babe, I’ll keep you on a pedestal forever.”

I reply, “I’m afraid of heights.”

I’ve always wanted to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and find the Colorado River. It doesn’t exist from above. The cliffs, caverns, and canyons appear out of no where, with no explanation from where we look down. I have to go deep inside to find the cause. I want to see the proof.

I say to him, “Make-up is an art. It’s fun to do sometimes.”

He replies, “Don’t I make you feel beautiful enough?”

I’m in love with the Painted Desert. Arizona has stolen my heart, and New Mexico has my mind. The canyons of the Painted Desert stretch out on the other side of historic Route 66. The road divides color from petrified wood of ancient forests. The land has layers out here. It isn’t dirt with grass painted on like icing on a cake. It is the cake itself. The reds, pinks, oranges, and browns stack on top of each other and create time and beauty all at once. It’s an art that only the Earth knows how to make and I am jealous. It knows color, it knows balance, it knows itself.

He says to me, “Just do it now. Then you can go to sleep.”

I reply, “But it hurts.”

I crave dirt, rocks, and lizards. I want heat, and to feel sweat that I’m allergic to. I need to draw pictures on a sunburn and be painted by nature in the same way it paints the earth. Be nothing, and carved into something by a force that others can’t even fathom. To be buried by a sea, and then left to dry out in the radiation. I want to slip into something more comfortable, more understanding, than this barren place I’m in now.

About Kayla Haas

Kayla Haas is currently enrolled in the creative writing program at Stephen F. Austin State University. Her work has appeared in The Stone Circle, Humid Issue 4, Circa Review, and is forthcoming in Humid Issue 5.

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