Forrest Gander

Evaporación: A Border History (2)

Paisanos we call
              roadrunners brothers of the land
                         pacing the quebrada de humahuaca a dozen
 Mexican corpses bloat
                             under desert sun
                in cottonwoods by the river
zone-tailed hawks squeal— evidente
                desde el aire
                                      a crackled private runway
       toxic waste unexploded
                        munitions booby-
                                                  trapped properties
                    bordered by purple and yellow
 bloomstalks, lechuguilla, agave, cabuya,
                                volcanic chimneys up-thrust
                                             from barren flats agleam
              in a basalt outcrop tarantula-size
                            feldspar crystals the old raiding trails
              from Comanchería convergen
  en un estrecho sendero packed by hoofprints
                           Alarmed ki-dear ki-dear of a
                                           Cassin’s kingbird on the
                                                       barbed fence 150 miles 
                                          surveilled by a tethered aerostat
                             que se parece una ballena (cielo abajo)
                          between those peaks 
                   sits Panther Laccolith and both naked vaqueros
             staked-out screaming on an ant hill
  as the female katydid waves her foreleg tympanum
                                                  at the stridulating males the fine-
                                                               grained intrusion that veined the mountain 
                                                   also silled Paint Gap Hill
              su caballo tembla en agonía pinned to the ground by a lance
    (and do you imagine that you yourself 
	        don’t also live a life that’s no longer there?)
          hovering over the field a flock of crested flycatchers (Clark’s 
                                                     nutcrackers can’t hover) the border
                                                                                         patrol dog lifts its leg
                                                                at the tire of the filthy Skywagon (cielo abajo) all 
     windows down blasting
	          Hair Nation Radio for an audience of cercas de coachwhip
                                          que van paralelas al camino Chihuahua
      Trail following Alameda Creek we call it
                                                                horse-crippler cactus

               Vietnam-era seismic probes
                                       enterrados a través de tierras privadas 
	         and lava-rock rims the sides oh
  give it a break mockingbird
               El Despoblado giant yucca and bunch grass
                           but what ventures into the afternoon heat? only Pharoah ants
                                                   only the insulated darkling beetle earth rising up
 into particles too scattered to be called dust
                                      en los dos lados del pavimiento magnetic sensors 
                           registran movimiento y the direction of evening
                                                  cicadas eclipse tree crickets
                                                             a thousand head of cattle
                         driven below trachyte hoodoos where
it comes to nibble 
             a prickly pear: the cottontail at dusk
                                     the human contraband at dusk famous
                         for their dwarf fauna estos estratos fósiles depositions of 
                                     carnage catches
                                                   of light our legacy
                                   mission posted at each station a carcass of
                                               the unspoken

Note: After a conversation with Lara Schoorl, Gander revisited the bilingual poem, “Evaporación,” published in Be With, determined to extend the poem into a sequence of variations, each adding more detail and each involving more Spanish. This is the second poem of the sequence.