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Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Up here on this rock, with the sun stinging my back, the lonely land bakes and sings in joy. At first look, the land is scorched, a bleached brown and crisp yellow like a pile of overcooked potatoes. Here and there, a dull green mesquite emerges, the cause of the color being sucked out of this place. A copper-colored pond straddles the etched line of mud slicing through the land. The sky, full of blues and fluffy clouds, seems to suck up the remaining nourishment, all hope of color, from below.

But life prevails. Grasshoppers scatter along. Black-eyed Susans sprout from the cracked earth. Birds call to one another in happy soliloquies. Red ants race through the crevices and scurry over the jagged rocks and pebbles into the holes below. A swift breeze curls through the naked branches of the trees and the parched grass bows. So there is something here, sustaining life. I smell traces of bigger things—fresh patties of cow dung—proof of life in this harsh place. There must be something that keeps them here.

reprinted with permission from the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate institute of Journalism

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SARAH PERRY is a freelance writer based in Denton, Texas. She began writing in 2006 and has a master’s in journalism from the University of North Texas. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News and Ten Spurs Literary Journal. She was named the first Mayborn Fellow in 2011. She enjoys traveling, cooking, reading, listening to folk music and writing bad poetry with a pencil in one hand and a goblet of Cabernet in the other.

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