We went to the river nearly every full moon,
kids out and lost together,
hot summer nights in West Texas.
Bonfires glowed along the river's edge in Socorro
as we looked to Isleta and Fabens,
our views through pecans and bends
grinding our thoughts along the border.
I rode Calamity Jane there,
wind or rain,
sand or tumbleweeds,
or heavy monsoons,
(which I secretly loved while frightening my mother
as I arrived home, soaked amid lightening strikes
so strong the hawks I loved
hid under the corral's metal roof.)
Friendship was priceless,
it was all we could afford.
Free dips in the water's edge,
gathered sage to scent mesquite from the hillsides,
stones petrified from the dry desert air
circling the flames of our future.
This partially autobiographical poem was written during a writing workshop at the Lazy Black Bear Farm (Paoli, Indiana), led by Catherine Bowman from Indiana University's Center for Rural Engagement. Guiding us through images from our childhoods and the elements, we used our personal words to create. My images were my horse, Calamity Jane, and my walking down the dirt road I lived on off Montana Ave. in El Paso through dust storms. (The first home I lived in while attending Socorro High School.) My elements were the Rio Grande River (water), a hawk (air), petrified wood (earth), and memories of bonfires in the dry washes (fire.)
The breeze takes my breath
as I rock myself in grandma’s hickory chair.
Sweet smell of black-eyed Susans,
birds flit along powerlines on the county road.
Corn and sunflowers fill farmers fields,
surprise lilies blooming in a ditch.
Children fuss taking off school clothes,
barefoot in puddles after a steady rain.
Soon harvest will end as the first winter frost halts the growing season.
Soon the fields will be bedding down under a warm coat of leaves,
as I pull out the tattered quilt I made
back when my hands were still able.
The snow will come to prepare for spring’s growth,
when my grandchildren will rock
in their grandma’s hickory chair.