The Pecos River
by Linda Starr
A late spurt of warmth
made berry blossoms burst forth
only to be pushed asunder again
with the next cold winter wind
Cottonwood leaves blew to and fro
gripping tightly in their maize colored glow
rocking and reeling like a piece of bait,
the Pecos River below their ultimate fate.
I can't even put into words the place we discovered alongside the Pecos River long ago. We were traveling in the Fall in the early 1990s and took a dirt road off the main highway somewhere in New Mexico. It was on one of many trips we've taken looking for our next home. A few years later we ended up in Arkansas, but that's another story. As we traveled down a long and dusty road we got further and further from civilization. The only reason we kept going was because we could see the road was still in use.
As we drove down the dirt road we saw fields of grass bordered by huge cottonwood trees. The circumference of the trees was so large I couldn't even imagine their size. I felt these trees must have been there when the Native Americans wandered and the Conquistadors traveled there years before. When we take these type of roads I'm always urging Gary to go a little further, just a little further to see what we might discover. This must have been around the time my 35 mm camera had broken and I didn't have a camera because I have no photos to show you. Yesterday I found my journal from the 1990s and the poem and drawings are copied from there. More than twenty years ago, could it be that long ago?
After what seemed like many miles and an hour or so later, we came to a small town with dirt streets and a few adobe and wood frame buildings. There might have been ten or fifteen buildings dotted here and there but none close to one another. After we meandered slowly through town we came to the edge of a cliff and the Pecos River lay below. Cottonwood trees dotted the edge on our side of the river. The cottonwood bark had deep fissures and seemed hard as nails. The river had cut a deep gorge into the earth and the face of the bluff on the other side was lined with uneven layers of rock down to where they met the water, perhaps 30 feet below.
I remember doing these drawings as preliminary sketches for two quilts I might make in the future. Now I think I might make a deeply carved tile or perhaps a painting with the cottonwood trees, the river bank, and the Pecos River. I remember the sky was very blue that day and there were big puffy white clouds drifting high in the sky above. Here's another poem I found in my journal but had a question mark at the end. I guess I never finished it, but I guess I did.
Rippling and swirling over rocks and round spurs
Of land once settled by the Conquistadors
Everything in its path held in it's throes
Breathing and snuffing life as it goes.
Coyote, juniper, Native American alike
the river they learned was their right
A trickle, a burst, a torrent each season
Animal, plant, and man lived by this reason.
What I wouldn't give to be standing on the banks of the Pecos River once again; to be traveling down the road just a little further. This post is part of Artists in Blogland. Thanks for reading and for all your comments