In the west Texas town where I grew up, the sun comes down hard on its people
Like a disapproving father
A mountain silhouette wraps its arms around you,
its anemic air simultaneously giving life and making it hard to breathe.
Like a mother torn between nursing her baby
and smothering it.
Clouds cast moving shadows on the hillsides,
mocking the shapes of birds and snakes.
Like the light show puppets
my father used to sing me to sleep.
I ran from these hills once.
But they do not begrudge me.
Each time I return, they greet me like a prodigal.
Golden poppies unroll like a welcome mat across the valley.
Cacti lift their prickly arms to wave 'hello'.
Mountain peaks stand at attention
and stars twinkle lullabies.
And I take a slow, intentional breath,
Do everything I can to commit to memory the hollowed voice of the summer breeze.
The fault lines and furrows of my father's hands.