Saturday, March 17, 2012

15 feet

It was more than the crust
the heel of the loaf
when you cut the round of the acequia away
spilled harvests of leave and husks
an ancient shale from a river of prayers
on that afternoon sliding towards winter
the wind rattled tails of elms like angry snakes
no children danced basketball steps down the dirt path from school
and the ditchrider didn't curve around the old cottonwood
stop rubber to turn iron and hook debris circling culverts
like salmon waiting at the dam.

Did you look beyond the tsunami of metal
the growl of gears
that drowned the bells of Holy Family Church
see the Comanches ghost dancing with San Ysidro
through the dust devils and hiss of ripples?

Your block wall holds the squared bank
from the bay of tumbleweeds
fluttering like old, loose headstones on empty lots
another mirage turned Aral
some dreams were sewn with a thinner thread

if you'd asked
the elders might have told you
blue lifelines mapped in their parchment of palms
carved across a silver-framed gaze
if you'd held them they might have told you
that one storm could swallow a shore
two hundred years carried in your tide.

Yasmeen Najmi

acequia is Spanish for an irrigation canal, derived from the Arabic as saquiyya.

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