Maybe Not

Cultured Narratives, Fiction

There’s a dream that I see

Sitting here alone on this parched New Mexican grass, surrounded by nothing but yellow in all directions, I dip my toes into the shallow stream below me and all I want to do is cry.

I pray it can be

The rancher who lent me shelter in his home last night after he found both me and my car broken down on the side of the road told me that the river would run dry within the next few years.

Across the land

The river is all he has to sustain his cattle, himself, and people in surrounding rural communities who depend on him.He said it’s because the earth is heating up and there’s nothing we can do to reverse the effects.

Shake this land

“Man caused this mess but men can’t fix it,” he said while we were drinking coffee at his table, basking in the already intense June sun.

A wish or a command

“What about women? I asked, jokingly.

“Women have a better chance than men.”

We’re just human

I lift my face from my knees, directly above the water. I’m crying, but not nearly enough. I want to pour out all my apologies to this stream. I want to repay the river with tears of replenishment, but human eyes can only produce so much water.

We all do what we can

So we can do just one more thing

If I had been as kind to the earth as this old rancher has been to me, maybe things would be different.

We could all be free

Maybe not with words

Maybe he wouldn’t have had to repeat the word “drought” every day.

Maybe not with a look

Maybe the grass I’m sitting on would be green instead of yellow.

But with our minds

These tears aren’t enough.

The turn of the tide is withering thee

I want to roll a grand piano over this stream and stand in the water, forcing sound out of it with my bare fingers and singing those words I wrote so many years ago, willing God—if he hasn’t yet lost hope in us—to resurrect this river.

Remember one thing

A dream you can see

If my words have any power at all, maybe he would cry tears of joy at the sound, and those tears would fall upon my shoulders, replenishing the river and our spirits.

Pray it to be

But I don’t have a grand piano with me, only my voice. I sing.

Shake this land

(**Inspired by the song “Maybe Not” by Cat Power. Italic lyrics are all part of that song, written by Chan Marshall. I first wrote this in my mind while half asleep.**)


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