Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Elm trees stood in front like two thirsty
sentinels guarding the few blades
of grass underneath the wooden porch.
In the distance, a trail of dust followed the
rusted car rumbling up to our house.
We waited at the door, my brother and I, listening
to beans bubbling on the stove, savoring tortillas
toasting on the cast iron grill. We pressed against
the mesh straining to see who was coming.
Mother hollered, “Don’t slam the screen door.”
Too late, we tumbled out to greet our guests.
No sooner did they cross the threshold when
my brother shouted, “Look!” pointing to a
burst of color outside the picture window.
Everyone rushed out and there
across the street, in an empty field , were
splashes of blue against the desert monochrome,
a family of bluebirds, three, four or maybe more.
Mother and Aunt Josie hurried out in their cotton dresses
holding their brightly colored aprons high above their heads.
Dad and Uncle Leo followed, chasing the birds from weed to
sage. We squealed, hoping they would catch one for us to hold.
Out of the west a dust devil twisted onto the landscape.
bowed to the harsh sting of
their faces in squatting laps
around folded legs
blowing their skirts up to reveal
bending, losing leaves.
We started howling waiting
Then, just as quickly it disappeared.
“No,” we gasped, the flurry of blue was also gone.
Laughing, the adults went inside for their meal.
My brother and I refused. We lingered by the window.
He scratched the paint peeling from the ledge.
I traced the crack along the dusty windowpane.
We closed our eyes and the tears began to fall.