When La Llorona met Billy the Kid in the trenches of the Cimarron canyon, the world was black with smokestacks, burning as buildings became tumbleweeds. The scars of the trees were brighter than the mountains, now rounded hills of charcoal and we were all mountain men, bleary-eyed and mad with thirst.
From the gorge, under great gray palisade cliffs we see the flames light the sky and it makes us wild like the men who first laid their hands on fire, who burned off their fingerprints so that we cannot find them beyond bones and needles and old spearheads stuck into the ground like pennies in a gutter.
Billy raises his six-shooter, left handed, crooked smile, unburied. His famous laugh breaks the wailing woman’s cry and she stops, and listens to his voice rattle like a baby snake.
‘We’re all made of wild things.
We’re made of touch, of caress,
And of the way your eyes flutter over me.’
She doesn’t know whether to rip him open with her desperation, or to meld hers with his somehow in the midst of the burning world.
How I want to be there, in that ocean when Noah’s ark rocked away in the darkness. The world underneath new–in that ancient tumbler of boulders—and I’d be as smooth and slick as a sugared strawberry.
Finally she says:
‘There’s no space here, in this air, in the remaking, for old, sharpness.
The love here moves us. Makes us. Wild to understand.’
And I think here, in the gorge, under walls of these stone giants, I’ve found the kind of twister that slung Slue-foot Sue into oblivion. I wonder–I’ve forgotten–if she wore her wedding dress? Her veil twisted and gauzy with creek water. As she rode, wielded, conquered, crashed that mammoth catfish into the howling moon.
I wonder if the twister made her–
made her hot– like the desert sea of sand and rattlers.
made her cool down in the night– like a bride uncovered.
made her mad– like the catfish who could live out of water:
alive like an inside out stallion. It’s inside a flurry of flesh and fur and a
dazzling mane that set free would have colored the wind on the plains.
On the day when the giants froze into mountains, staring at each other across the Cimarron river, the moon wolves yelped and withered into coy-otes: howl-less and brown like dirt. And our legends met our ghosts with pistolas and lagrimas.
On the days of our births we breath the dust of memories
And it scours our flesh, smooths our skin, fills up our lungs.
And God says at each beginning and beginning again that it is good.
He said we are perfect.
And so we breathe now. As we breathe again. And we continue our remaking.
But the earth is cracked like a battleground.
Like footsteps. Like a mine of years and stones:
Rough and brilliant.
Sharp and smooth.