Dust Storm at Burning Man

All night the wind has blown through our camp,
Lifting curtains of fine dust off the playa expanse.
They say the dust here is the finest in the world:
Finer than talcum, smaller than any dirt known,
And in certain spots, it is 10,000 feet deep
Or at least it used to be, prior to this storm.

The air is a flowing flapping mist of creme clouds.
It eddies and gusts, heavily laden with natural powder
That coats every surface and seeks out every seam,
Transmutes all colors into a single earthen tone,
The hallmark of this vast bowl called Black Rock Desert.

The good news is that the wind has been blowing
For 12 hours so far, offering hope it could soon end
Although it shows no signs of slowing down as yet.
At least it’s daylight now and so
Our blustering adversary can be seen
Instead of just heard and felt.

Our shade canopy gasps like a chaotic lung
Expanding, contracting, shuddering, popping
A living bellows pumping powder.
Bad as it is, we know it could get worse
And thus take a certain pleasure in how it is.

Alkaline dust fills the spaces between my toes,
Whitening my fingers and staining my palms,
Dust powders my scalp and streaks my hair,
Cakes in my nostrils and forms dirt-balls
At the corners of my tear-filled eyes.

Living with playa dust, with elemental winds,
With blazing sun and heat amidst the blindness,
Coughing incessantly to clear our lungs,
Making meals amidst sheets of flying grime,
We take heart from knowing that the storm
Has been blowing for 24 hours now
And has to end soon, doesn’t it?

by Ed Buryn

About the author: Tales From the Playa

Tales From the Playa

Tales From the Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by participants. Submit your story here.