We are dead dry, the land chewed and burnt to the quick, the ethers as still as nature allows. Having arrived at the pinnacle of the season, we gaze over the precipice.

Arid winter is my favorite time of the year, but these few weeks before the rains come are singular. Felipe describes it as the time of suspension, as he says this I think, yes, that is it exactly; like the moment of faith in a free-fall, those few glorious, soaring seconds before we catch the grasp of progress and are channeled into the rain’s agenda.

For now, there is promise on the horizon, the air is thick with it. After sunset dark clouds tumbleweed the horizon. Heat lighting is the headliner. Center ring at the circus; we sit in the bull’s eye, the spectacle spins around us, a massive powwow to which we are not yet invited.

Morning news comes word of mouth; it rained in in Xoxocotla, downpours in Zacatepec. We are wallflowers, waiting for a suitor.

When I lived in Chicago I seldom bemoaned even the most ferocious weather. I clung to the belief that gale force winds, slush sprays, and the rapturous snow globe moments beheld in the city’s  grand canyons were all I had to maintain my reverence of nature’s dominion. I was grateful to be imposed upon. But here in the palm of the Sierra de Huautla those encounters with weather have the quality of home movies from a past life, the film sepia, insubstantial.

This period does not correspond to the exaltation of Midwestern spring; like the opening of a hand, all Maypole and peony, perhaps a storm provides excuse to fill the hearth once more. Ours is a guarantee of violent takeover, a tsunami of clime that blasts flotsam with the force of a fire hose, drowns careless planning and leaves us in the midst of fecundity so swift, so prolific, there is no doubt of its supremacy.

Here at the Piedra Rajada , we are uncommonly well prepared this year, with well roofed housing for animals and storage for grain, windows mended, hatches battened. No, we will not escape without losses, but the threat is minimal in comparison with years past. Perhaps it due to this small security that this year– though water is not my element, I will plunge beyond my ability to tread.


© 2013 Abby Smith, Writer

Rubber Boots

Uvia (rain). When the rains come everything changes. Drastically. What was dead to the point of ash is suddenly seething with life. The earth, under an unrelenting sun comes to an almost preternatural stillness in May. After the deluge, in what seems like seconds it becomes a riot of sound, growth, muddy labor, creation and color.

I am from Iowa and I don’t think that anyone would describe its climate as mild. It boasts tornadoes, subzero and 90 plus temps, and snowstorms that require one to keep a winter emergency kit in your trunk akin to a bomb shelter’s, but my first year in Mexico the ferocity of the weather intimidated me.

My first rains here were just plain scary. Every one suffers, the animals are pummeled, the tightest roofs leak, and always something is forgotten, not covered or tied down securely enough and is lost. Our benevolent creek mutates into an unapproachable torrent, carrying rocks-big rocks, and trees that are not holding on tightly enough. Oddly, the idiom ‘baptism by fire’ comes to mind, the sensations of initiation, subjugation, and renewal are predominant.

Now that I have lived through five Mays in Mexico I long for the first rain, and I sense this same desire in everything around me. All pine to be released from the stranglehold of winter’s heat, and to plunge headlong into the savage, lush, procreating, inundation of spring.

Last night, it arrived.

Rubber Boots

If I had a pair
Of rubber boots I would climb
The mountain more
Often I would walk off
The trails without fear
Of snakes who coil
Snakes that strike
If I had some
Rubber boots I would not be
Afraid, actually
Fear would cease to exist

With red rubber boots
I would splash through
The creek bed creatures
Could not suck
My ankles, my fingertips
Would be crystalline
As moonstone, obsidian
Not caked, soiled
As I am now

In blue rubber boots
I will wade into
Deep the snakes
Will not hiss but slide
Inside to sleep
Contended at my feet
Like road wheels
They churn beneath
Me, I leave a wake

If I had black rubber
Boots I would plant
In the mud like a man
Scramble over boulders
Seeds in hand
I let them land
Where they may
I do not look back

If I had a pair of boots
Made of rubber, yellow
Flashy as a mirror
Dry and dark within
It would mean that I am
Loved, I could love
The whole world then

But as it stands I walk
Wet to the knees
Consort of snakes
Feet of clay
Hoarding my seeds
Of issue