#21 Empire of Dust by Michelle Holland

The water’s path etched patterns
in the arroyo, like veins,
like ebb tide and no ocean,
the glittery mica and black basalt
edging some of the grooves.

These are best to run on,
firm now, two inches of sand just
the day before the Sunday downpour.
Thunder and lightning, hail that shredded
the corn leaves and left the beets tattered.
Everything will survive, though,
and the thunder called the spade-foot toads out.

When I turned the corner to the dam,
I heard them, and smiled as a I ran.
Thousands of slippery creatures crawled
from the dry dusty ground
and waited for the torrents of water
to wind their rivulets and converge
behind the dam, fill the containment pond
for the first time since last October.

Water erodes the dust, exposing old bones,
cleaning out silted-in arroyos,
creating new paths.  The land and water
work together, regardless of culvert pipes
and bottom land.

I love the give of the earth
on the new moist silt run-off
from the surrounding mountains.
My foot falls gentle, the push off
into the next stride reminds
me of the ease of momentum,
the juxtaposition of dust and breath.

Michelle Holland lives and writes in Chimayo, New Mexico.  Her books include the New Mexico Book Award winning collection, The Sound a Raven Makes, Tres Chicas Press 2007; and Chaos Theory, Sin Fronteras Press, 2009.


One thought on “#21 Empire of Dust by Michelle Holland

  1. Oh, wonderful to read you here, Michelle! Thanks for reminding me of that feeling of moist silt underfoot and the sound of the spadefoot toads clamor in that moment of abundance…

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