Thursday, May 1, 2008


The river makes a slow s-curve over the better part of a mile. Running east, narrow out of a little box and making a full swing south where it runs alongside the road before passing behind an outfit HQ on a rock bluff and making the swoop back to the east. Trees run thick along the banks through the curving narrows. Russian olive, their gray green leaves standing out against the red dirt, and salt cedar, brighter and more vibrantly green, and cotton woods yet another order of green entirely.
The road comes down from the rough hills into the river basin, running tight between a rocky hillside and the river. Dropping down off the last rise before the river bottom, the road runs through a stand of salt cedars, mesquite and Russian olive.
It was out of this stand on the far edges of the riparian area that the horses came running. A startling sweeping arc of sweating bodies dashing, nostrils flared and eyes wide, across the road and up the slope, into a break in the rocky hillside where their hooves could find comfortable footing.
The sweat on their hair and water still clinging to their fetlocks glistened in the late afternoon sun. The dust that rose off the road a red aura around them as they ran. Two, then three, five, then eight, ten, then fifteen horses running hard, at home and yet alien bearers of water upon their bodies in the rugged dry desert. Glistening bays and browns, paints and grays, curving out of the infinity and nothingness of the impenetrable tree line.
Up the east-facing slope of the hill they ran, dashing into the saddle and disappearing back into the vastness of the red dirt and broken browns, greens and purples of the rocky landscape.

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