Editor’s note: “Emerging Voices” is a new, ongoing segment featuring young writers from New Mexico. Pieces will be presented by various mentors and teachers working with students across the state. If you work with young writers and would like to highlight a standout talent, please contact us. Essays, poetry, creative writings, personal experiences, or other projects are welcome. Thanks to Stevie Olson for presenting this week’s Emerging Voice.
Today’s contributor Michelle Gullett offers us two pieces about her experience living in Placitas. The first, a poem titled "Night Drive," captures the simple beauties and ever-present ironies of our lives. The second piece, “The Desert and the Dweller Enjoy the Rain,” details the transcendent moments of arriving showers in a thirsty landscape. The Mercury is happy to present Michelle’s writings, we hope you enjoy.
While driving down the night-cloaked highway
Craters and contours splashed with milky moonlight,
I glance to the far off giant, Jupiter; the tiny shape held by fingers of atmosphere.
But an oncoming Wal-Mart truck blocks my sight.
Tires eagerly covering ground
To restock the aisles of the store at Exit 233
Lest its customers be disappointed.
The Desert and the Dweller Enjoy the Rain
Beneath the darkening sky, I lie with the New Mexican desert in silence. The sun, having baked the earth with rays of gold, retires for the night. The earth breathes out with gratitude, but knows the day will return. It always does. In the sunset’s wake, the earth and I sense an approaching gift. Shadows cast by the fading light disappear into the dusk as a covering of clouds blankets the sky. I’ve known this feeling before. My breath shortens. My ears prick up. They’ve learned to sense the slightest sound of droplets pattering as precious rain hits the sides of the house. Soon, the desert and I will know if the night is to bring us such luck. Soon, we might feel the touch of rain come to wash away the dust and fill the cracks of the overheated ground. Soon, we will be nourished.
Scarce moments resonate within me, a desert dweller. As I lie twisted in the covers of my bed, rain soaks the earth, offering a scent that puts me at ease. My body relaxes; the muscles unwind. I smell the land’s history, the stories and legends of my beloved Placitas. The smell of earth is the smell of life. The Sandias watch as temptations of sleep echo with the drops of rain against my glass windows. My mind drifts, entering a private sanctuary. My ears detect cars, drivers careful not to skid across the slippery, winding village roads. From an open window, a breeze drifts into the room. The tip of my nose—the only inch of my body above the covers—senses the fresh mountain air. I breathe deeply. The coolness of the air is delicious, and I wonder if I will ever wean myself away from my old addiction. The rain falls hard; a climax on the cusp of existence. Our love for rain is undying, but I sense its end. The desert sighs, understanding an old friend has not come to stay. We detach from time, detach from ourselves. But the departure is no matter to us. The rainfall brings us sleep.
As residents of the rift valley, we are unaccustomed to rain. Our tumbleweed kingdom gets nearly fifteen inches of rain annually; hardly enough to keep crops growing, rivers fed, and souls content. But when the clouds grow dark, the people of Placitas stop to look toward the sky. They know what’s coming.
Michelle Gullett is a seventeen-year-old wanderlust who resides in Placitas, New Mexico. While exploring under the desert sun, she enjoys writing poetry and creative stories. Her interests span from cultural and political topics to human interests and the teenage experience. Michelle plans to continue her studies in English and Spanish and soon travel to various European and Latin American countries. In her free time, Michelle can be found clearing Huevos Rancheros plates at the Range Café.