Flake, Part III: El Viento

Little evidence remains of the late November windstorm that ripped off four panels of our fence and destroyed a tent in our side yard. Friends remounted three of the four panels. (The fourth is beyond repair and needs to be replaced.) The Valle Encantado farm crew threw out the shredded tent and restacked the vegetable boxes and flats that the wind had scattered about the yard.

Christmas afternoon, while Henry and the kids ran a quick errand, I walked the half acre on which our house sits, something I enjoy doing because it’s good to feel our dirt under my feet, to hear the neighbor’s geese honk, to open the back gate and step along the ditch. By the playhouse, I found two plastic storage bin lids we were keeping on the porch by the office side door until we could find their corresponding containers. The wind had blasted a hole in the bin that once held them.

Princesa and Oso, the German Shepherd and Golden Retriever next door, cried as I approached the fence separating our two lots. They were probably outside in their little pen when the windstorm hit. They are south valley dogs. Like the dogs I knew in Deming when I was a kid, they don’t get much more than food or water. If they go in the house at all, they don’t sleep on dog beds at their owner’s feet. I try to pet them when I walk the arugula and cucumber beds in that corner of the yard. But Christmas afternoon, their cries unnerved me. I wanted to stick my hand through the chain link fence and pet their noses like K. and P. do, but I worried they would bite me. Oso tried to pull herself up on top of the doghouse. Princesa leapt along the fence. They were desperate. They needed too much.

I wrote in Flake, Part II about the people in my life who make me feel small. What hurts in those instances is not my shrinking, not exactly. It’s the feeling I would have if I were stuck out in that windstorm with Oso and Princesa, knowing that I can howl and bark and whimper all I want; and the wind won’t stop. Or maybe it will. It’s knowing that the wind is indifferent toward me, that nothing I do or say alters its course or its ferocity. Those people who make me feel small are like that windstorm. I can shake my fist as they shred a tent or rip my fence off its hinges; but my fist shaking does not change them. And their raging is not about me.

The trauma in my life has been about ambush, the attack that comes when I least expect it. The Dodge Ram Charger that slammed into my Taurus. The angry phone call that Sunday evening. The cough that was cancer in my grandmother’s lungs, that killed her from fall to winter. The sixth grade girl I worshipped, who told me as I drank water from the stone fountain on the Chaparral school playground, the secret that was rupturing my family. The older boy, or maybe he was a man, in my friend’s bedroom, who said he would show me a neat trick if I promised not to tell anyone.

Sometimes I am Oso and Princesa. Sometimes I am the person on the other side of the fence, the person who can choose to engage or not. The person who doesn’t need the dogs nearly as much as the dogs need her. The one who even fears the dogs a little because I recognize something of them in me.

Next Week: Ambush

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Published in: on January 3, 2012 at 8:44 am  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. what a powerful writer you are Michelle: muchas gracias

  2. This may be my favorite. Beautiful!


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