JUST DESERT

JUST DESERT

*

We find ourselves contemplating a Traffic Jam in the Desert.

A wavering Vision in the Heat, of a two lane, black-top Highway

shooting straight as an arrow to a far horizon

where distant mountains rise beyond a Desert floor,

flat and featureless as a tabletop.

*

Both lanes are packed bumper to bumper with cars,

all facing the same direction,

for the most part stationary & still,

the occupants inside sit waiting silently, seat-belts on,

staring grimly forward.

Somewhere Something is burning.

The Haze has turned the Sky a sickly shade of yellow.

The Sun burns like a fiery, pink eggyolk.

In the dry air, heat waves rising from the baking ground

sets the whole scene undulating in wavy lines

like it’s a Dream Sequence or a Flash-Back

from a cheesy, low-budget Television Show.

Adding to the air of Unreality,

shining lakes of silver appear in the Desert,

the cars far ahead appearing to be standing

in shimmering shallows & pools;

Heat Mirages of non-existent Waters,

that evaporate as the thirsty traveller approaches

them, forever retreating as you advance

teasing and taunting.

Every now and then the line of vehicles inches forward

a few incremental feet, (usually when some vehicle

further on up the road

has run out of petrol or broken down,

and been ruthlessly rolled aside by those behind it.)

Then engines are briefly fired up in succession down the line

and one after another they move forward

into the slight gap that opens up before them.

Then, one by one, the engines fall silent once again.

Every now and then some red-faced cowboy in a four wheel drive

cracks up completely and drives, screaming and screeching,

out-of-line and off-road,

accompanied by a Pandemonium of honking Horns

and angry Shouting, burning rubber & metal

& belting hell-for-leather

towards the the distant mountains on the far horizon,

leaving behind them a comet tail

of dust and gravel.

They don’t get far usually.

The last one I saw was blasted by both barrels

of a shotgun as they tried to drive past a cop car

about five hundred yards on up ahead.

They flipped, caught fire, then exploded,

black smoke tailing off into the desert sky

for many hours.

No-one likes a Queue Jumper.

At night though, Law & Order breaks down completely

in the utter darkness (no-one dare use their lights or radio

lest they drain the battery of its precious charge)

and predator packs of petrol thieves

stalk the line, slitting the throats of the unwary

and draining their tanks to the last drop of fuel

and the radiators of their water.

In the morning the cars of the victims

are rolled off road after a brief prayer,

the white-faced occupants still sit in their seats, staring forward,

with a look of blank surprise

and a neat red ribbon tied around their throats.

How long has this Traffic Jam been inching across the featureless plain?

Are they fleeing some ghastly Apocalyptic Catastrophe?

Or perhaps it is merely the End of the School Holidays

and the yearly Summer Migration of the Middle Class,

back from their favoured nooks and havens

where they flee to escape the hottest months.

Indeed, some of them fly all the way to Bali,

South East Asia and even as far as Hawaii,

returning en masse like Starlings at Summer’s End.

(Watching their arrival at Tullamarine Airport

is one of Natures Great Spectacles!)

But this year the Tourists are returning early,

their Natural Cycle disrupted by Climate Change.

Bushfires have burnt most of their natural habitat

and so blackened and blistered, they trickle back to the cities,

to listlessly watch cricket with the Prime Minister,

whilst their bored & disaffected Young

play games on their Iphones.

Meanwhile, back in the Desert, the line of Cars continues

to wait. Intermittently a car breaks down,

occasioning an epileptic twitch of movement

rippling down the line.

Far ahead the cars dissappear into the Mountains. Who can say what the cars that have reached the highest pass

can see when they look out at the other side

beyond the range.

The Sky is getting darker now.

Soon it will be night.

***

***

This week the country that I knew died.

***

~ by reverendhellfire on January 5, 2020.

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