With These Hands: Burning Man.
Black Rock Desert, Nevada. Late Summer. Mid-Afternoon.

In front of me, dancing
and twitching (I listen),
flexing, then snapping taut
(there is no sound), wandering
left, then forward, right, then
back, a little giddy or drunk...

There is a slender rod
of dust, a writhing snake
of air (surely
it will vanish), a cylinder, a
frantic linear dervish (surely), the width
of my thumb, the height
of a man. There is
a foot of sorts, a spray
of dirt (it does not)
(vanish). It

does not move to leave. "Look," I say.
Some people stop to look. It does not
vanish. We stand around it in a circle. It
does not leave. A man

rushes up
with a blue balloon, throws it
and the genie

evaporates. Everyone leaves

but me
and a guy who ran to get his video camera.

"Look," I say and point
at the blue balloon, now fifty feet above us.
Now sixty
feet, straight
above us in a perfect
sky. Now a hundred
feet, straight
above us and we know, that guy and me,

we know the devil is floating right above our heads.
Invisible. Frantic. Spooked. We crouch
and wait and look around and look around and


between a tent and a pickup
truck: There it is. Smaller. Agitated. Spinning,
furious, kicking up a little dirt. We approach
as if it
wild, afraid. I

hold my right hand flat against the ground, palm
facing up. With my left, I pry up a clod of hardened clay.
I crush the clay to a stream of dust and feed the dust
to my open palm. I

slide my palm beneath the twisting thing,
feeding it dust, raising it a foot,
two feet above the ground (I am holding, in these hands)
then it (in these hands) then it

jumps at my head
and I duck and it

jumps onto the cab of the pickup (covered in dust), then
it wanders over to an open tent, takes a running leap

onto the spine of the tent (we run out front,
pointing) the people inside have no idea


it is a foot wide, tearing at the fabric, jumping back
to the ground only as wide

as a pencil, drilling into the hardpan then it turns
and walks
with a purpose, toward the open playa, shivering
a little, crossing the last dirt track

now a greedy foot, two feet, three feet, wider, swallowing
a cubic yard of dust in an instant and
the genie


a solid thing,

fifty feet, a
hundred solid white feet bang tall right in front
(now whispering, now whistleing),
now twenty now thirty feet wide at the base I


after it and through the stinging white wall (tearing
at my clothing) to
the middle, looking up at a torrent of dust rushing
upward (the blue balloon now a thousand feet
above me, two
thousand) rushing from me I am laughing
and shouting
twirling I
hold my breath I
cannot hear anything but wind I
cannot see anything but


JDP 2002/10


Dust Devil 1
Dust Devil 2
Dust Devil 3

Copyright John D Porter © 2002

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