Just north of El Prado, the land slopes down
toward Hondo Valley. A green Forest Service truck
and vintage motorbikes rest inside the curve
of a nearby switchback, rimmed with sagebrush
and chamisa. (A rapid-fire scatter of rabbits hides
there, prey to coyotes who hunt from higher ground. )

These mesa lands are bookmarked by memories
of rain. A small arroyo formed last year – now larger
ones have appeared, fingers opening up the ground
between them, places where they almost touch.

Soon they will marry – at the next flash of rain
or with a distant flood that races through the valley
over ground parched beyond resistance.

I slow at the switchback on my way into town.
The arroyos, ever closer, reach for one another
with a raw kind of longing.

A few miles west and eight hundred feet down,
the Rio Grande lies at the base of a gorge it carved
over eons, persistent, swallowing all in its path.
Artifacts of early humans adorn the sheer cliff walls.
They left pots, tools, but no forwarding address.

A house built of adobe, the small vegetable garden
dug in the desert, a truck and motorbikes rusting
in switchbacks – mere presumptions of safety
against the distant storm.

© 2019 Susan Chambers