Monday, February 13, 2012


Cafayateños say so much rain is unusual. Nearly every day dark clouds build behind the mountains to the southwest, spill across the sky. Lightning streaks, thunder booms. It’s a fluke or it’s global warming, but no one here mentions climate change. Instead, people wonder how the grapes will do with this much rain, they go down to the river to stand & sprawl — children doggy-paddle — in tumbling brown water.

water enters like an unexpected guest
                                                    we welcome
               with curses, sponges, rags

water as a pool on the windowsill
               spots & a puddle on the floor
       showers spill from the tops of the window frames
plaster crumples on walls

floods in the thyme
            the cactus garden
             the orange grove

after hard rain the desert greens
                                             teru-terus skip like randy children

early morning after hard rain
the earth breathes
                         the air is softer

hard rain collapses the sand pits of antlions

Our garden guzzles every drop. Plants unloaded from a truck in mid-October grow bigger every day, except for daylilies, whose leaves the ants prune & haul away no matter that we spray. Dozens of tuna (prickly pear) — a monster crop — fall to the ground daily  & lure more ants. We shovel tuna into the compost or kick them into the acequia. Yes, we could eat them, but the few I gathered filled my gloved hands with dozens of tiny yellow spines that called for a soaking in Epsom salts, the purchase of tweezers, a loupe to pull. My cloth gloves required two runs through the washing machine & Mike’s meticulous de-spining before I could wear them again.

sand, organics, ripe tuna
                                 gather in the pool
         I angle rocks for circulation
sand drifts
              tuna whirl

green grass grows in the acequia
         blades long & horizontal
                                           like mermaid hair
streaming in running water

Andean snowmelt warm as blood in noon heat

next to the acequia pool a garden floods
due to a break in the concrete
                                         that once made stones a wall
are grass roots rotting?

maybe I could learn proportion
                                          water to gravel to sand
mix up a bucket of hormigón

Late today in the large pond we spot a slick of bubbly — toad eggs, transparent, each carrying a black speck — surrounded by thousands of wrigglers. Tadpoles eating toad eggs. Will birds arrive to eat the tadpoles? Which birds?

long red legs of a teru-teru next to the water
        red feet wade
                            belly floats

wings lift to splash, to fly, white & black chevrons beating

touch-&-go, touch-&-go
                                wasps skim the pond
               red, black, gold
dip too low
               the weight of water swamps one

the damselfly’s wings are transparent where they are not electric blue

After dark the rain falls constant & soft. Plants grow visibly in this summer of extra rain. The palan-palan makes a forest. Carolina bristlemallow swells from tiny stragglers to a dense green mat. Every day another pineapple sage plant raises red fingers. The Portulaca gilliessii flowers — orange, red, pink, yellow — shine like jewels. What all blooms? Pineapple sage, portulaca, basil, thyme, oregano, curry plant, mint, daylilies, palan-palan, broom, anise, begonia, bristlemallow, cactus, rose. No masses of color, only bright spots here & there.

in town the donkeys sleep at night
                                               at river’s edge
                          on sand & stones

the river normally dry or nearly
bicycles & walkers traverse the arched metal bridge

cars must ford the riverbed
                                     wet or dry
                                                   except in floods

Mike says,
              “I just washed my car”
Yakeen says,
                  “Go slowly, go very slowly.”

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