michele privette




Buckets of rain rocked our tiny vw van,
thundercracks reverberated in my bones
echoed never ending arguments followed by his voice
soothing, my heart floating on hope forgetting
the perennial battles that rose on updrafts out of nowhere.
Instantly, the torrent simply stopped,
a park ranger tore across the mesa top.  We followed him to the cliff.
The Dine call it T’salie - The Place Where The Water Goes In.
We found a hundred desert waterfalls dropping a thousand feet,
bending tiny groves of ancient peach trees almost double with the downpour’s weight.
The ranger told us that he’d been waiting all his life to
capture this moment on film.  While he spoke,
we counted the waterfalls as they receded across the gorge,
23 … 17… 13 … 7… 5 … 3 … he took pictures and exposed his fearful memory
a woman caught in a flash flood in Canyon del Muerte.
He found her body farther downstream than any other victim … as if
she strove to breathe to fight to breathe to live to breathe to
flow to breathe to be herself to be one with raging elements
surrounding her she tried to change form she tried flesh to air to flesh
again.  He found her lying as if asleep on Chinle’s sand.
For a moment he had hoped … but his
blood knew the fury of the river.
She was ripped and torn and left
with no clothing, no jewelry, no bone unbroken.
She had tried real hard to breathe.
Last night I watched the mighty Missouri
claim three counties In 12 hours.
I stood on flint cliffs with strangers and witnessed
the 100 year flood drag 20 tons of interstate bridge
into the muddy morass of carcasses and driftwood.
Beneath the river’s dark surface, homes wait to be cleansed,
casualties to be grieved over.  Beneath the surface of my skin
are the violent memories of gasping rage.
After the floodwaters recede, the cooling silt will crack
under the high-water mark and the breathless sun.



Michele Privette has been published in “The Ink,” “The Windmill” and won a couple of awards from Sager Creek Art Center.  Thriving quite nicely in the Western Siberia of Texas -  she drinks and dances at Rosie’s Cantina, rafts the Rio when the river hasn’t been turned off by the Army Corp of Engineers and hikes in the Organ Mountains past signs that say, “Do Not Enter – Unexploded Ordnance.


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