By Catherine Pierce
Once, many skies ago, we drove across the ache
of Kansas straight to the base of a large mountain.
We were nearly engaged. We were close to knowing
each other. At the peak I couldn't breathe and I
was elated. A fear with a name and I named it. Hypoxia.
Asphyxia. Things we might call a daughter. Later,
we played on pinball machines from the '30s.
There was a natural soda spring. I still can't explain it.
Something else I loved. There were animals
that popped from the mountainsides, built of curled horns
and indifference. Our raft nearly wrapped
around a boulder. At the take-out point, I jumped in
and almost drowned from the weight of water
ballooning my jacket. I didn't drown. Neither
did you. I loved that, too. I learned that gin
comes from the juniper tree. Could we name
a daughter Juniper? There was an early evening the color
of whiskey, all the trees sending out their air
of clean and quiet, six hummingbirds spinning
their wings around us on our cabin porch. On a hike
too hard, lightning flashed. The ground growled.
Here, too, I thought we might die. Then we didn't.
That night the primavera had just been invented.
We were toasting syrah to luck and odds. Outside,
the night dropped its blanket of lake water.
But inside a fire burned. It was meant to be
rustic. It succeeded, or we let it. Something
always worried me, my fear a constant shark,
but there it stopped circling, grew feathers.
It nested in the rafters, suddenly a quiet starling.
One night we ate chili rellenos. One night we drove
far out. We were lost in a strange neighborhood.
Meteors blitzed over the dome of sky without ceremony.
You held my head in your hands. We stood there.
We stood and heard lowing. We stood and heard wind.
I had a very family-focused Sunday. We had brunch at my parents' house with most of my local extended family -- my cousins Stephanie, Gene, and Debbie, their cousins Jane and Bob, and Paul's parents, who are finally back from traveling all over the country visiting relatives. There was lots of food -- Adam, who was just back from running, ate some of everything, I think -- and I hadn't seen any of the extended family since spring, when we had two family funerals in a short time, so although my younger cousins were all back in school and couldn't be there, it was very nice to see everyone.
Then we came home, picked up Adam's friend who had agreed to help us carry heavy items in exchange for dinner, packed up the van, and took Daniel to College Park to move in for the fall semester. His roommate had arrived earlier in the day, so after we got everything upstairs in the intermittent rain -- not that I'm complaining, as one of the aforementioned younger cousins is trying to get out of New Orleans ahead of Isaac -- the guys got equipment to bunk the beds, moved around the desks, and started setting up their equally elaborate computer configurations. Only later did Daniel realize he forgot to pack his fall clothing.
As promised, we took Adam's friend to Plaza Azteca for dinner, where we had more food than we needed after brunch and saw a rainbow out the window while the storm cleared out. Having helped his brother, Adam rearranged his own bedroom furniture in preparation for starting school on Monday. We watched Puss In Boots, which was entertaining -- I liked it better than the last Shrek movie -- particularly the visuals (Vasquez Rocks! Bryce Canyon!) though I'd have appreciated slightly less stereotypical female characters or at least some explanation of everyone's accents!