Cow skull, horse skull, pronghorn skull. Flawed arrowhead
with crystal growths. Tiny white seashells in the dust. Petrified
wood. Crude scarecrows shot full of bullet holes. Ram’s horn.
In saguaro-studded nowhere: charred shell of a Cadillac. Around
it, globules of its melted steel, fired, like hardened mercury.
Bad news. Sun-bleached spine. Geocache with Polaroids and
plastic spiders. Two pairs of cracked boots at the base of a metal
bed. Hidden petroglyphs. Exploded meth trailer. Bottled water.
When you worked for No More Deaths, you trekked through
barrens of shin dagger, cat claw, ocotillo and sharp rock, planting
gallons of water. ICE would find them and pour them out slowly
into the sand. You found a dead tree out there hung with
women’s underthings. Painted all over the canyon walls:
BURRA. The coyotes flung them there, mementos of the women
and girls they raped. A monsoon rolled in as you stood under the
tree—you fled to the terrible sounds of bells. You could never
explain the sounds. Years later in a bar in Virginia, we saw a
chandelier fancifully draped with lingerie. You felt ill, had to
leave. What else? Rattlesnake, gas can, windshield-struck barn
owl. Rocket-box full of whiskey. Perfect little ears of corn
in an adobe granary. A young child’s ancient ochred handprints.