The squat little juniper trees set on the sides of highways, guarding the brown dirt and the towering sunflowers. The sunflowers popped up suddenly one year, blooming in waves across the sides of the highway and under the passes but the juniper trees were always there. Firm and unrelenting with their thick clumpy needles. They were the ugliest things I had ever seen. Puke-green, squatting like wizened old ladies in the dark as we dragged our much packed and unpacked things into the brown house. There were many houses before it and many cities at that but they are blurry memories, muddled like pot holes after the rain. We stayed in the brown house for much longer that any other. There were twelve of the puke-green junipers at that house, bending in the New Mexico sun. Winter came rushing in after October, slinging thick bundles of snow over the junipers, covering everything and blending all the colors into an absolute nothing. My sister and I stepped slowly and precisely in the snow, tracing and retracing steps to save the pure blanket. I brushed the coverings off the junipers. The branches bounced up and down, shaking the last remnants off like wet dogs. Once the little barn kitten got stuck up the highest juniper. It was the favorite, fluffy grey like a rain cloud with wide eyes like hard blue beads. We called and coaxed with pet names and jars of cat food jiggled like maracas. I climbed up the branches as the bent like bows. The little favorite mewed and howled mournfully. I pulled it from its high prison and tucked it under my sweater where it dug its claw into my bare chest. The junipers were unrepentant but I couldn't help but forgive them anyway, they were just so ugly, all crouched under the sun.
If There Was Ever Something to Miss, This Would Be It
March 1, 2011