I have drifted over the edge of a shallow bluff onto a bank of reddish clay by the Rio Grande. Tall mountains loom over the opposite bank. Were the sun not behind my shoulders it might seem chilly where I stand. Perhaps it is summertime. . . perhaps it is spring. The water seems very shallow. It moves with moderate swiftness over rounded stones the size of bricks, strewn liberally in the bed of the river. Each rock gurgles with the water. Hunderds of rocks . . hundreds of gurgles . . . thousands of rocks . . thousands of gurgles, and pops and gushing tremolos . . . the noise becomes deafening.
Fifty . . . Million . . . Years . . . Ago . . . This . . . Was . . . The . . . Ocean . . .
To my right I acknowledge the presence of thousands of birds, their cries now intermingled the water. Birds with white rings near the tops of their long necks and patterns of television static covering their bodies. The birds become so numerous that they interlock with one another, forming an expansive, moving puzzle, as though constructed by M. C. Escher.
The rocks near the banks extend and wind to keep their craggy tips above the expanding mesh of birds. The scene has become so mesmerising that I can no longer bear to watch it. I turn my head away and force the heels my palms into my eye sockets until I feel more stable.
The birds clear and the water subsides. I land on a small island in the river near a tributary arriving from the plain above. I land on my feet though I immediately sink to my ankles in a sea of small shiny pebbles, each carrying a glint of sunlight on it's whetted surface.
If the ocean were here, I would see trilobites.
Marine organisms, . . algae, . . fish . . I see none of these. I kick over a large, pale stone, thrusting it into the current. It metamorphoses into a white seashell, a texas whelk of white alabaster. Hundres of these shells now dot the banks of the river. The dead ones lie exposed, bleached to an albaster white. With some effort I extract a nearby shell covered in sediment from it's hemi-burrow in the mud. The snail retracts its eyes and spits a steady stream of water while retracting itself into the body of the shell. I drink the water. I run my fingers along the crimped edges of the larger whorls and try to remove the ruddy brown clumps of mud still stuck to the exterior. I do so without success.
I have left a small pock in the bank from where I removed the snail. I watch intently as trickles of red clay meander down the sides of the hole until a silty substance has completely filled the disturbance.
I no longer hold the shell in my hand.
With snails come the birds.
With birds come the plants.
With the plants the water can flow with ease.
The rocks need no water.
I squeeze my arms against my sides and rise gently above the river. Someone has placed a fence of barbed wire a few yards behind the edge of the bluffs. I float over it though occasional tall reeds brush the bottoms of my feet. I float over a dirt road and farm fields with the intent of reaching Albuquerque as it fragments before my eyes.