Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Marina Seca, San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

1. The wash filled with red earth, spots of mud, standing water.  Swallows flit across the road, a gull flaps by, then suddenly, along the line of trees, a commotion.  An egret lands; the other birds scatter then return while it highsteps happily in the rocky ditch.


2. I am on the way to the market.  A bright grey knee-high dog with large ears comes scampering up the road and sniffs my heels. Two women in a golf cart stop to pet it.  One stumps out handling two canes, the dog backs off, then runs forward: he knows her.

3. Water gushes beneath the road, still tumbling out of the mountains after the rains two days ago.  This is where the road washed out in the fall after the hurricane, and an entire work gang is still labouring to replace it.  They've built themselves a tarpaper shack just off of the road; all day they move machinery and screen earth, separating out the stones.  Trucks full of pipes discharge their loads here; a woman waits for the bus; two boys dig what looks like--but cannot be--a shallow grave with pickaxes.  Someone has just planted palms in the median; abrupt holes in the earth--pedestrian beware!--indicate where other plantings may be.  I come from the market and carry heavy bags.  I pick my way through the uneven ground of the median until I arrive at a culvert.  Water is gushing from a cast iron pipe, creating a small red mud lake.  A young engineer balances on the pipe, talking on his cellphone.  He gestures to someone else, then suddenly looses his balance, teeters, his eyes wide as he peers into the watery mud.  He flails his arms, regains his balance, shrugs, then snaps his phone closed and pulls out a tape measure to count off the length of broken pipe.

4. It is night. Cold, clear, the sky filled with stars. There, above the yard, is the big dipper, its handle tipped back along a mast so that the ladle dumps out backwards, pouring starlight over the deck.

5.  It's dusk.  The cattle wander up from the arroyo, where they've been feeding on grass and sheltering in the trees. They decide to cross the road and nothing will hurry them, not the baying of the dogs nor the honking chorus of a line of dusty pick-up trucks, tired men on their way home from work.

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