The crosswalk is clear and the light is red,
but the woman on the corner stands still
and watches the clouds roll north.
Eyes close as the first drops touch her,
and she stops her music to listen
to the rain.
I have been working on something I can only call a poetic ethnography. Moving to the Rio Grande Valley hit me with culture shock – it is like nowhere else in Texas, and I have learned from friends that neither is it truly like anywhere in Mexico. This place is utterly unique. As an anthropologist, my first instinct on being confronted with something new is to dig in deep, notice everything, and catalogue it. As a wordsmith, my first instinct has been to catalogue it in verse. And so el Valle has inspired a series of poems that will eventually become a short book – vignettes, observations, snapshots, and occasionally a mention of my own responses. It is the expression of my gratitude for the things this place has taught me.