El Agua Es La Sangre de la Tierra/water is the blood of the earth.
by Alifair Skebe
Original cover art by the author.
Finishing Line Press, 2008.
Available through the publisher
Retail price: $12 USD
In the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico State, there is an old Spanish idiom that dates back to the 16th Century: “El agua es la sangre de la tierra.” In the near-desert conditions of the terrain, the water is the life-blood of the valley, manipulated by the acequias, or water-gulleys, an intricate labyrinth of man-made creeks and locks that divert water from the Rio Grande to irrigate the nearby farms. The Spanish believed they civilized that earth during colonization, but there still exists today the Native communities, reservations, and a cultural tradition deeply rooted in the natural rhythms of the land. This long poem looks synchronically at those layers of culture conversant in the landscape: nature unbridled, the indigenous First Peoples’ cultures, Spanish colonialism and monasteries, the appropriation of native traditions in modern art, and the sprawling commercial wasteland left by capitalism. These images are layered across the backdrop of the unsolved murder of a teenage girl at the Sandia Mountains. She comes to represent the embodiment of a feminine Earth in the contemporary sphere.