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Poetry Winter 2021

Dear Gypsum, this is a love letter

by Brennecke Gale

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. 

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