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Wednesday, March 13, 2024


by Sally Zakariya

A kayaker on Lake Manly at sunset in Death Valley National Park, California on Tuesday. (Bridget Bennett for The Washington Post, March 1, 2024)

They don’t call it Death Valley for nothing.
Dry, desolate desert—who’d expect
an ancient lake to reclaim its old home?

I’m back, the waters whisper to Badwater Basin,
its soil salty with geologic tears, memories
of a time long gone.

Ninety miles long, six hundred feet deep—
that was then, before the last ice age
gave way to a warmer world.

Native peoples, a gold rush, borax mines, 
twenty-mule teams—a busy history 
for the nation’s driest spot.

Now rain, rain, record-breaking rain 
has resurrected the lake, thanks to climate
change gone out of control.

But put your kayak away. Already
the ghost lake is evaporating,
too shallow now for boats.

Farewell, the waters murmur. But
if the humans don’t take care, I’ll
be back before you know it.

Sally Zakariya’s poetry has appeared in some 100 publications and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her publications include All Alive Together, Something Like a Life, Muslim Wife, The Unknowable Mystery of Other People, Personal Astronomy, and When You Escape. She edited and designed a poetry anthology, Joys of the Table, and blogs at