Page 5


to touch, to blend, I looked west to sky overhead, pu along the canal. Just silence, a hazed clouds that rose in godly fashion above the horizon. I looked at the No epiphanies there, no messages, and no voice from a Burning Bush sence of the earth and the steady white glare of the two o’clock sun. Elroy Bode lives in El Paso. His most recent book is Home Country: An Elroy Bode Reader. 50/ :r`f 22 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JULY 21, 2000 WO, TWO O’CLOCK IN THE HEAT It was 106 degrees at two o’clock, but I wanted to walk in the heat, in the sun-illumined countryside. I pulled my car off the highway, got my straw hat from the back seat, and started down a side road past scattered houses and fields. Two o’clock on a June day was as intimate to me as any secret: the clean-swept dirt by the side door of an adobe house, the faint smell of road tar, the distant hum of a tractor, the heat-dazed stare of chickens beaks open, panting as they stood together in chinaberry shade, the green rows of corn turned a deeper green in the steady summer sun. I walked, glad to be squinting and sweating because the earth was hot and bright and I was more alive because of it. I walked, and I felt as cleansed as a Greek of old: as if my body was being buried in sand and then scraped thoroughly with a blade. After a while I crossed to a canal and stood beneath the canopy of a pecan orchard. Doves called from within the trees gentling the air with their unhurried sounds and a hummingbird appeared above the surface of the canal. It hovered over the coffee-colored water, drinking once, twice within the drifting water-shadows of the trees, then took itself away showing in its peremptory flash-and-dash that it came like afternoon lightning: as a gift, a marvel. It was there, near weathered farmland sheds and with a hawk circling overhead in a place of timeless desert air and desert greenery that my nagging need for answers welled up in me again. It was against common sense, but I had never given up on the idea that one day I could simply stop, be still, and know the world: that I would be walking along and come to an ordinary tree or wall or fence on an ordinary road and there I would pull the universe to me. It seemed I should be able to do that to find, finally, the Authentic Place and the Authentic Moment: to be so ready, so receptive, so open that I could stand there and have my life and the life of the world finally come together: