What Butters the Mind

Springtime in the greening desert,
a genesis of rattlesnakes.
Cholla burrs drop to rocky ground,
hatch into mad tarantulas.

Old desert rats plant lies in spring,
“They spray acid, digest you from
fifty feet. That’s why bones shine
so good in desert sun.”

We are collecting specimens,
lift a few sharp rocks,
herd a lone scorpion slowly,
sloppily into a paper cup.

“They can go 90 miles an hour.
One of these little ones can kill
a bear. Big scorpion year wiped
out all the mammoths in these parts.”

We look out for damage to our own
fragile evolution, put two centipedes
in the same cup. They spin madly
around the edge, butter tigers,

until both die minutes before
they think to stop, and turn into
two small strings of honey-butter
beads, amber desert jewelry

set with sky-stone in quicksilver.
We drive back to the city
by way of highway butter beads
of suburbs fueled on bitter amber—

no-exit edge of a faster racing cup.
I think about where legends come from,
while blind traffic spins butterly around
the edge of the cup of my mind.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.