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  • Writer's pictureLayla Proffitt

Across the Desert Expanse

Style: villanelle

Statement: I wanted to explore a different style of poetry than I would normally write, something more constrained - so I wrote this villanelle about watching the sunset in Joshua Tree a few years ago on a school trip. It was a very vivid moment, and what really stuck out to me was the contrast between the inevitability of the sunset and my mad dash from the car to the top of the rock outcropping to watch it. I wanted to emphasize that through this form.


I had to avert my eyes at first glance

as I stood atop the rocky ridge, squinting

at the sun blazing dying orange across the desert expanse.


To climb this hill, I jumped at the chance,

but the endless sand had sun rays brightly glinting;

I had to avert my eyes at first glance.


Once I looked up from the boulder to the sky I entered a trance,

and through my closed eyes the red sheen was hinting

at the sun blazing dying orange across the desert expanse.


I had researched the timing of my climb in advance,

but the sun was already setting as out of my car I was sprinting;

I had to avert my eyes at first glance.


As the sun lowered, the colors continued to enhance,

the scrub-brushes and joshua trees warmly tinting

at the sun blazing dying orange across the desert expanse.


And even as the night at the corners of the sky continued to advance,

and tiny pinpoints of white on the advancing dark were imprinting,

I had to avert my eyes at first glance

at the sun blazing dying orange across the desert expanse.

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