Passing Through Albuquerque
At dusk, by the irrigation ditch gurgling past backyards near the highway, locusts raise a maze of calls in cottonwoods. A Spanish girl in a white party dress strolls the levee by the muddy water where her small sister plunks in stones. Beyond a low adobe wall and a wrecked car men are pitching horseshoes in a dusty lot. Someone shouts as he clangs in a ringer. Big winds buffet in ahead of a storm, rocking the immense trees and whipping up clouds of dust, wild leaves, and cottonwool. In the moment when the locusts pause and the girl presses her up-fluttering dress to her bony knees you can hear a banjo, guitar, and fiddle playing "The Mississippi Sawyer" inside a shack. Moments like that, you can love this country.
From Words for My Daughter. Copyright © 1991 by John Balaban. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Bos 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271. All rights reserved.