What an Arroyo Can Do

Etching of piñon trees, New Mexico, by George Elbert Burr. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

It is possible for an arroyo to hold water,
just as a gutter, one of its definitions, can.
But mine is high in the desert and dry as scorn.

The sun bakes long-suffering into that dirt.
That’s what an arroyo is, a gully of dirt
the color of old pottery and scrub,
like a god scattered a burden of
wild straw and told it to dig deep into
the color of acceptance. To make roots.
“Start a family.”

“This is home,” the wild straw said as it clung
to the land. Not at first.

But after so many cycles of skies talking
blue streaks to nights. Then
the scrub made friends. Fell in love.

I was drinking when I fell into an arroyo.
Scrub raked my hands like a rancher
if he thought I was after his daughter.
Unless he hoped for a daughter-in-law.
A piñon tree ordered the scrub to resist my pull.
“Stay grounded!”

You know, when we think stars are trembling,
those constellations are really laughing.
I saw them. I was on my back.
The stones, which I haven’t even introduced,
snarled at the dirt and scrub to ignore me.
No one argues with stones.

Sarah Sarai is the author of Geographies of Soul and Taffeta and The Future Is Happy. She is from New York State, California, New Mexico, Washington, and New York City, in that order.
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