because tonight it rained for the first time in a month. Just for a few minutes, it never stays long, but afterwards the brand new baby leaves on our front yard aspens glittered like polished emeralds pulled from a late summer afternoon. The birds got louder, maybe to sing of rain-rebirth or perhaps the new crop of worms, or maybe the world just stopped for a second to listen. In Gypsum, rain is a gift. The Ute people call the town the hole in the sky because bad weather always seems to skirt right around it. I think Gypsum got missed by other things, too, the future drove right past on I-70 without looking to the right. It’s easy, I know, but if you glance out the passenger window and the sun is just right you’ll see green, emerald green, aspen green, green, green, green, all the way up the dirt road valley to the top of Red Hill. Gypsum is painted into colors and the world whips by at 60 miles an hour. Up in the hills above the highway there are the gypsum mines. I’m shit at geology but I could pick some gypsum out of a hat blindfolded if I had to, soft, flaky, barely even a rock. The breakfast table in my old house had a telescope view of the mine roads and I’d watch the trucks collect dust over my soggy oatmeal. In third grade we went to the factory for a field trip. We walked there from the school. They gave us a piece of drywall and promised that their polluting smokestacks were only steam, like cloud memories of the mines. Gypsum is not a water town, but a creek has snuck its way into the wrinkles of our lives. Softly, like a gentle reminder that we are not all rock. It feels like an afterthought compared to the respect commanded by the Colorado just a few miles away, but in the spring rainbow trout spawn and melted snow rushes over river rocks smoothed by seasons and time and the sunset’s reflection dances through the neighborhood. In Gypsum, all roads lead to dirt. Fifteen minutes out and you’ll forget about the mines and the cookie-cutter houses painted puke green and the air will tug on your lungs like wildflowers on the wind and the scent of sage burns in your memory and all you can see is rock and dirt and life and death and somewhere, a car is passing the exit and a fish is stuck in the stream and the birds are singing and wondering if it will rain again.
Dear Gypsum, this is a love letter
by Brennecke Gale