Waking in Vallecitos

(for Annie and Marc)


She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is everyone that retaineth her.

Proverbs 3:18


            Waking beneath the Civil War quilt made before we gave up the urge for perfection to machines, I heard with the ear that enters dreams, ďA sky stunned with hummingbirds.Ē

            Outside the half-open Dutch door that faced the wood-chipped path to the outhouse, it was a truth in progress.

Dew-fresh river willows drew my feeling self, still roaming in dreams, out of the adobe sanctuary, and my eyes were

eager to follow my feet deep into this valley-filled dawn. A valley barely held back by lichened boulders heaped high above the nurturing vein of green water.

            A sky stunned with hummingbirds, mid-August, trapped in the boulder-rimmed valley, deep-veined by river-wild

grasses, dewed dawn cradled in this valley. Dawn dreaming

in the acequia with the cottontail as its totem. More alive

than the flowing blood of living flesh itself.

            This valley not so deep, but its deepness being in our eyed hearts, and so deep to us as we sink into its bottomless peace.

            On the porch, eternityís porch, we three women who left the hurtling world to sing golden with trombones the music of this day, this place, to let music come through us as

nasturtiums draw earth-filtered rain and river water through

their roots and up into their orangey, opulent heads, sat still

in the shock of unimagined delight. Some of the music was already there waiting, trapped in the old, gray planks, pooled

into the seat of the rocking chair and floating like warm air 

up in the corrugated roof. Some seemed to run at us from 

the field, grass-stained at the knees, waving fistfuls of wildflowers. Some of the music we brought with us: old, 

favorite licks, single shining long tones, but also those secret sounds in our cells that lay ensconced on pillows like 

Sleeping Beauty startled awake by the deep kiss of the buzzing land.

            In the heat of the grandfather day, we hunched over the copper-covered coffee table and made things out of scraps. Pan revealed himself as a dry stick with green glitter eyes, 

ever ready to unite with anyone willing to play. A marriage 

was fashioned out of plastic, gold foil and bread ties. Wordlessness became pastels and beautiful geometry. 

Happy absorption built meaning from the unwanted incompleteness. The dross strewn on the table looked like 

the aftermath of a feast of coyotes, now slunk off to doze in 

the shade. Newly acknowledged parts of us gave a yip and 

ran out barefoot into the sprinklers or jumped on a banana 

seat with ape hangers and toured the neighborhood with a 

troll doll in each back pocket.

            The guardian hearth looked over our shoulders remembering its pinon fragrant fires breathing hot desert 

breath on the chilled skin of late March before the snow disappeared into the strengthening sun.

            The old dartboard on the wall by the loft stairs awaited our accuracy and one-pointedness. Three tail-feathered, tarnished-brass-headed darts stuck on the pock-marked 

black and white mandala, everywhere but in the bullís-eye.

            In the kitchen the embered chambers of the 1880s cook stove slowly gave up their breakfast heat to the butterfly dawdle of the long afternoon.

            Amid intervals of singing and sounding our glinting trombones on the porch, up crept the mosquito-dotted dusk. Stars took their places in the indigo heavens until the 

corpulent splay of the Milky Way breathed above us, 

bringing us to reverent silence that lasted without length, transforming us into pure beings. We were head-covered Catholic women in a place of miracles. We became votive candles at the altar of living, light-pierced night sky. The 

breath of dry grasses and the faint winding wind of close passing mosquitoes kept us on earth as we watched the beauty undress itself. Returning to the original singing place within, we took turns singing solo to the dark humming presence stretched above us and weightlessly anchored in 

our hearts. Our music partnered by the stars penetrated into bone and trombone. Our instruments barked, whined, whispered, warned and mumbled in no time, in no place, as 

in the womb months. The silent earth sistered us, poured in.

            We went to our beds steeped in unthought, ringing with wild resonances and the smell of resting juniper; the river talking in its sleep. Night in the house nickered to us from the roof. Insomniac chipmunks rushed and pulsed in the rafters like furry synapses in a caffeine brain. They skittered in and out of the portals of our barely-tethered minds.


Donít make me go back,

beautiful land, beautiful sky.

Let me stay in your song

and be sung out over and over

again as the sun turns to moon

turns to sun.


Chill my bones in your gruff

Novembers and grill me on your

spit of infinite July.

You have made of me a penitent

to the mysterious choir

of growing things.


            The next morning I watched my dear friends drive off toward the concrete-breasted world of digital toxins and passive-aggressive, partially submerged love of war and dead things. And I returned to the house. You, she it, that . . . whoever you are, was us for forty-five and a half hours. 

Each daylight hour wrapped in the shroud of feeding hummingbirds. Each night hour bundled in the mother-dark 

of the unseen valley.

            Iridescent hummingbirds underlining the bejeweled chaos with their rapier flight paths, zooming over the lowing trombones on the porch.

            You held us in your arms and defined the meaning of grace to all our senses, all our darkness. We were filled. Emptied.


Unspeakably blessed.