Renegade Muse


Big Bend, Texas

This memory is twenty-five years old, from a college field trip: I’m sitting up in the window of a University of Texas Geology Dept. Suburban, hanging onto the roof as the vehicle careers down a dirt road through the late afternoon desert, the sky burning blue and the air so clear and dry it stings, the mountains turning deep pink on the horizon. The air smells like creosote bushes, sweet musky scent. My hair’s whipping my face and the dust is billowing up behind the truck—some crazy college student is driving. It’s the middle of nowhere, and it is home to me, though I’ve never seen it before—more familiar than the house I grew up in. I can see the high dark mountains across the river: they’re like some mystery that has pulled at me all my life.

I came across a photo of me—nose covered in zinc oxide—sitting on top of one of the huge petrified logs way back on the Agua Fria Ranch.  It was probably about 105ºF in the shade. I think I still have blisters from those hiking boots.