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In the Time of Drought

Creative Nonfiction, Kiersten Czuwala

I once encountered a forty-foot cross somewhere in the panhandle of Texas. We had emerged

midday from the Oklahoma border, the miles between Tulsa and Amarillo a long blur of prairie

and dream found, and then lost again, to the inaugural gasp of a long choked wind. The air

thinned and skies widened before us, the spine and arms almighty stretching, stretching up and

out as if to trample or envelop us. As if the forgiveness warrants the fear.

It seemed to continue to grow in the direction of its own fear, reaching to touch something in the

clouds, which eclipsed any foresight of deliverance, that would make it shake and crumble and

return to the sand beneath it. As my eyes wandered up the spine, I couldn’t help but see blood

trickling down it and wonder what everyone thought was in the sky that was not also in the flesh.

How many gods had been whittled down to shape the dunes and mesas, the shavings of their

femurs piled atop one another in strata of rival prayers?

We had stopped to camp in Palo Duro. That canyon road, coiled like a serpent in heat, jaws in a

slobbering dangle, tempted us toward. As the car swerved and spiraled up to the overlook, I

wished only for lower ground. I fear my companion hadn’t felt the gravity of the situation in the

same way as I, what it meant to tread unconsented upon a body that hadn’t wished to bud. I

looked down into the sinking canyon, tansy aster and sand sage and juniper swaying carelessly to

a silent melody I ached to hear. A premonition was forming on the skin. They had begun to

reflect a sheen something like the foreplay of rain. I watched them strip down to their pores and

what I thought was a mother nursing her child had been a mouth drowning itself to make

something feel held.

The sky is not only in the flesh but becomes it and dies it. Does the sky, high up as it could be,

not also weep down and pray to be received? Even it knows that the fall itself is not the

punishment but merely a consequence of the rise, the only pain those few windswept seconds.

How many tears must have been shed to hollow the valleys, how much fear spilled and then

saved by a lone iris in a time of drought.


Kiersten Czuwala (she/her) is a writer and yoga teacher based in upstate New York. Her writing is strongly informed by her yoga practice in the way that the physical body moves and relates to both the metaphysical space and the natural world. At her core, she's nothing more than a Tumblr girl learning to evolve that energy into a more refined, nuanced style. She can be found on Instagram @kiersten.czuwala


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