Elgaria kingii

Madrean alligator lizard
Lauren Goldstein



All of your crucial insights are instinctive.

You are not bothered

by the small inconvenience

of infrastructure failure

when late monsoons cascade the mountains

like spreading adrenaline.


Slender-tongued, belly-down,

untethered by photo albums and passports

or fantasies or philosophies,

you can pull yourself up and start over

on any flat, red boulder.


You and water share a past.

Water’s memory origin, and yours,

is the beginning. You share

homes in chaparral and pine-fir forests,

and constant movement

under windfall and overgrowth.


You are a pattern of abundance,

not lack, of endurance, not fear

even when some years the ocotillos’

tips can’t turn red and they skeleton

in this oppressive drought and light.


Slender-tongued, belly-down, you soak

in orange shadows that turn purple

to slate blue to night black. Across the desert,

what we can’t see listens and listens,

and the world hangs on a thin thread.




Lauren Goldstein infuses artistic practice into all facets of her existence. She serves as program manager in the Office of Strategic Initiatives at New Mexico State University where she fosters engaged collaboration for community and economic development across diverse state networks. She earned her BA in English at Creighton University, MFA in creative writing at Virginia Tech, and PhD in Rhetoric and Professional Communication at NMSU.