A family recipe, a childhood memory, a Depression-era handout
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At the Paso Picacho Campground just after dusk, I walk past a big Mexican
family picnic: everyone chatting & laughing around a long plank table littered
with paper plates & plastic cups & half-empty bottles of Fanta.
Two little girls off to one side collecting the prettiest stones,
& a slew of bigger kids racing around playing tag, wrestling & giggling;
& farther away, in a world of her own, a white-haired grandma
in a long green skirt is dancing ecstatically by herself, barefoot under
the stars, dancing with that invisible someone, her wide hips rocking
to music from an old Chevrolet’s staticky speakers, the driver’s door swung
open — the Dixie Chicks: If I could only hold you now . . . Is it stupid
to guess she is dancing again as they danced when he was alive & both
of them young, that husband of hers, gone now, what — twenty, thirty years?
I walk through the campground toward where my own car is parked
this early November evening, the Pleiades gleaming above us, Stonewall Peak
darkening to the northeast, & a sliver of moon through the pines.
The others, chatting & laughing, pay her no mind as she sways there, eyes shut,
barefoot, lost in that old dream: a girl in her twenties, dancing again here in
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, in her long green beautiful skirt,
with that boy whom she loves still, that boy she is going to marry.