D V L S R V R

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D V L S   R V R

when tread hits bridge
our heads habitually turn
towards the drop,
our eyes scanning
for the glint of sun on water,
an old instinct
embedded even 
in us big city slickers

especially out here 
in this border kingdom of
limestone and sage 
where the sun punishes
and all that stands between 
life and death
is a plastic jug of 
hot Aquafina 

and even with a jug
our throats are dry
and our heads are dizzy
when we finally submerge
in the blue seam 
that splits the desert, carrying
sky and minnows and beads of sweat
all the way to Coahuila 

they say the devil 
came to the river in 1841
when a Texas ranger
surveyed the prickly pear cliffs
and muttered: hell,
but like all borders
the one between 
heaven and hell is more porous
than we’d like to admit

from the hostile rock 
cold springs flow 
straight from the karst
to our naked shoulders
and we sigh a small prayer 
of relief 

 

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mixed media collaboration :
poetry by clara | drawings by emily | photos by both

 

Big Dipper

 

Wade_Sludge

DoubleClara

Bathe_Texture

 

DevilsRiver-web

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DoubleEmily

Processed with VSCO with 5 presetSotol and Cloud.

 


 

On a Thursday in mid-July, close friend and writer, Clara Bensen, and I headed Southwest from Austin towards the Mexican border. Our goals were loose and simple: escape work & city with camping gear & camera.

One evening before our trip, Clara and I discussed how we’d separately hit creative walls and wanted some sort of spur or ignition. Late summer in Texas can get a bit draining, so we hoped these few days away would allow us to relax and be inspired. No timeline, just four days and a few select destinations. Being surrounded by nature of most kinds has always been stimulating, allowing a sense of release.

We spent nights at Seminole CanyonDevil’s River State Natural Area, and Hill Country State Natural Area .

Our Devil’s River campsite was a 22-mile drive off of the main highway, down a rough dirt road into a desert haven rich with sotol and prickly pear cactus. To reach the river, we hiked a (long) mile and were rewarded by cool water. The land was well preserved, filled with an array of animal and plant life. Down river was a natural cold spring, busting from the rocks. We explored the area as if we first discovered it. While there we both took photographs, which planted a seed for a collaboration. It had been a long time since I shared a creative partnership with someone in this freeform fashion and I was very motivated. Something new.

The images above are from the Devil’s River area, shot by either Clara or me. The poem “DVLS RVR” is written by Clara. “Big Dipper”, “Devil’s River” and “Sotol and Cloud” are my pen and ink illustrations.

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