Thursday, August 21, 2008

Westering 08: Coyote and the Civic
I-40 Incident in Old New Mexico

In June, a few days after the summer solstice, Coyote looks across the interstate, past all New Mexico, towards some lone New Englander driving a Honda Civic who’ll arrive some time upon the day of Santa Ana’s corn dance, and begins to stroll across the road. One month will pass before he hits the center line. A van will slow, its brake lights flashing red like dried ripe Rio Grande chile peppers. In the passing lane, that Honda Civic sees the future through a prism of possibilities.

I am inside that Civic, after Acoma, on the way to Santa Fe. A Volkswagen Beetle is riding on my tail like a sand-dragon in heat. If I dare to stop, or even slow, it will smash into the rear with all the energy of some nuclear Los Alamos encounter gone so wrong. But if I don’t, Coyote will have claimed last laugh. On the other hand, if I veer to left, I will fly into the median like a thunderbird striking lightning. The only possibility to avoid his death or mine is veering right, praying that the van has slowed enough to let us live again. All of this I know within my heart in just three seconds.

Coyote sees it all. The Civic coolly slips past safely to the right-hand lane; the van has slowed into a desert tortoise. The Volkswagen, last to know the situation, either clips the sudden vision, or it barely misses. Coyote doesn’t really care; the Beetle's wobble is enough to indicate the world has now inalterably changed. The sandstorm has begun.

And after all, that was his destination.

~Son Rivers 2008

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