Meditation on New Mexico’s green chile

The first time I tasted green chile I was nineteen years old

sun-struck

desert-struck

in love with sunburn with the desert with the wide ranges of the interstates with the sharp edges of the peaks standing out against the hot pale sky

in love with the August thunderstorms that broke the sky’s edge sent the red mud washing down the arroyos

sent torrents of water sheeting down the old truck’s windshield so fast the wipers couldn’t keep up and we had to pull over in order to see

in love with the sparse cool grass under the one tree

in love with the need for a sun-bleached hat with cowboy boots with the hard work that started with the drive out at dawn with the dirt on my skin and the way a wheelbarrow angles down a rough-cut path and the fit of a shovel in my hands and the smaller tools tucked into the back pockets of my jeans

If I found myself – one of my selves – for the first time when I reached the Mojave – partway there! – with the windows down and a stubborn refusal to turn on the air conditioning and had to soak my head under a tap at the rest stop to bring the focus and the cool back to my brain

If I found myself – one of my selves – when the oncoming lightning storm lifted the hair from my head and I felt the crackle in the air before running rushing back down the hill to make it down off the peak before the storm struck

If I found myself in the wide cut dirt of working outside and the chile in town just the right heat on weekends at the end of the day when the sky also opened up with stars and we tilted our heads back and there was so much space

then I am still all of those selves

and in these days of less space and less motion I am grateful for remembered heat

remembered past

remembered sun

remembered selves.

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