Last week here in Las Cruces we had two horrible weather days. The local media dubbed the blotting out of the Organ Mountains a “sand blizzard.” Other parts of the country were experiencing or readying for a polar blast; a friend of mine in upper New York state rhapsodized about their first real snow. We had a “sand blizzard.”
Walker that I am, I bundled up, including sunglasses to deflect sand particles, and leaned my way into probably forty mile an hour wind gusts. Later someone told me that the news reported the equivalent of hurricane strength winds that afternoon.
The birds had fled, predictably. This was no morning saunter among finches and white-capped sparrows. Where do these little power houses hunker down I wondered as I was buffeted and battered along the way, barely retaining my balance, a drunk sobered only by the head wind.
I mostly kept my head down. Less particular matter pelting its way around the glasses. I imagined myself a Dust Bowl character, as one of those WPA photographs of folks lurching through blackening whorls.
But there was joy in it, the sheer physicality of walking in such wind. i remembered I had jogged in deep snow in the old days of good knees. Something about the bracing cold air and the relentless gusts almost made me laugh. Yes, it was pure joy. Alive, alive.
But even more so when I looked up to see, through the dun colored sky, Picacho Peak ahead–an old volcanic cone rising out of the Chihuahuan desert around it. There was a rainbow arching over it, stretching from the cone toward the Rio Grande (also a sandstorm for the river is “shut off” upstream this time of year).
I plodded along, watching it deepen its magenta and rose; it seemed to grow larger as the colors brightened. And so these lines came, what I call a “flash poem”:
“May we be a rainbow in the world
I looked down to find my way, and when I looked up, it was gone.