All about
ancient deltas & flood plains,
about nomadic peoples; rio del norte
fronteras, changing claims, narrow land
grants – each ribbon touching life-water,
stretched outward into even drier ranchlands –
& salt-crystal lake beds, La Sal del Rey battles &
fierce border battles & Civil War battles & bloody
species removal wars waged against thick riparian forests,
carving away dense thornbrush lands, creating ranchos,
settlements, new towns; & it's about ranch stock & small
farm crops, hard field work, herds of sheep & cattle &
grueling pan de campo Chisolm trails; & it’s about river
names & claims, the Nueces, & El Rio Bravo, Rio Grande
border names which move set boundaries Southward; & it’s all
about steam boats churning up & down deep rivers, from Boca Chica,
the Gulf’s mouth, west to Rio Grande City, past shifting sandbars,
running blockaded bales of cotton up rivers, across rivers, changing
flags & transporting cargo, travelers & commerce goods; & it is all
about rare hurricane torrents, massive floods, damage-changed rivers,
cutting oxbows, creating resacas & about the wide dams, large reservoirs
& attempts at taming rivers; & it is all about a pump house, first fueled
by mesquite wood fires, feeding river waters onto once arid lands,
on wild horse deserts & all about concrete canal streams irrigating
row crops & about migrant labor working across rivers; & it is all
about Rio red grapefruit, Valley lemons & wealthy men, speculative
land sales producing demand for reliable farm-to-market transport &
it’s all about freight railroads shipping citrus, cotton, sugar, moving crops,
moving people; & it is all about Cavalry trails, military roads, Texas Rangers,
Mexican banditos & displaced Native tribes; & it is all about bridges, sturdy
wood & steel connectors, & about rope pulled ferry passage across rivers,
across families, across nation lines; & it is all about the two World Wars
& unsung veteran heroes & etching out long, hard two-lane highways dug
alongside caliche train beds; it’s all about illegal crossings, trafficking human
cargo, drugs, cash, guns, cartel big business crime; & it’s about legal trucking
maquila trade across rivers, traveling both ways; & about across-river music,
conjunto del norte, mariachi sounds; & about local sabor – taquitos, fajitas,
fresh tortillas & wild caught Gulf camarones. It’s all about each bright
species –  local & migratory birds –  & about homeland security,
southern border patrol green & green jay northern borders;
it’s about replanting migrant native forests, reforesting
rivers of riparian trees, reestablishing dense
thornbrush regions, recreating once wild corridors,
fighting fierce battles against invasive species
now spread along the river’s edge; & it’s all
about oh so many bright winged butterflies,
cultivating native host & nectar plants;
kindred spirits, conservation networks,
local friends & those who remain here
all winter long; the planters & protectors
who restore now sparse habitat; it’s about
citizen scientists who log nature findings,
take feathered photographs & mark
each rare or common sight
– it’s all about rivers,
about rivers &
about people
& about
life.
Location: Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, Texas
Elizabeth Perdomo has lived and written in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas these past sixteen years, moving to this region from the Rio Grande Valley of northern New Mexico. Born in Kansas and raised both there and in Colorado, she has written poetry works since a young teen. Perdomo also lived in the Southeastern USA for many years, where she married and her 3 daughters were born. Perdomo has been an active member of the South Texas Border Chapter of Texas Master Naturalist since 2016. Her written pieces reflect her passion to learn about local places, culture and tradition, as well as gardening, ecology, nature and much more. Perdomo is the author of a book of poetry about the people and places in East Tennessee entitled, “One Turn of Seasons” and has had a number of poems published in periodicals, chap books and collections, including a recently published collection entitled, “Kansas Time + Places.”
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