December 1, 2018

unexpected lullabies

unexpected lullabies
White Sands National Monument/Missile Range, New Mexico


It’s 9 am on a late October morning, the day before Halloween. The sand is still cold from the night before, but the sun is already starting to slow broil the right side of my body as it travels in its long arc. I am facing North, sitting on a sea of white sand, and listening to airplanes.


I thought I would hate the jets as militaristic intrusions, as symbols of violence and dominion. Instead, I find myself tuning to the long slow cadences of sound they produce, waves of motion casting themselves over a drifting land. Combined with the strangeness of white sand and blue sky as the only visual, my current level of exhaustion (after staying up too late to watch the moonrise and getting up too early to watch the sun), and the feeling of unreality that pervades this whole place, they become a kind of rumbling lullaby - a tumbling, rolling surf that comforts me toward sleep.


Occasionally a bird meeps past. A single ant explores delicately through the sand. Children yelp as they slide down the hillsides. But mostly it’s just me, sand, sun, sky, and the lullaby of the fighter jets.


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