1912 - for Full Orchestra
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The Gila River would be a perennial stream carrying large volumes of water, but irrigation and municipal water diversions turn it into a usually dry river. Below Phoenix to the Colorado River, the Gila is usually either a trickle or completely dry. The Gila River a long time ago was navigable by boats from its mouth to near the Arizona - New Mexico border. After the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848, the Gila River served as a part of the border between the United States and Mexico until the Gadsden Purchase (1853) soon extended American territory well south of the Gila.

Once, I sang a maiden’s song:
I am the Brazo de Mira flores;
Domingo del Castillo watched as I slipped
Wet and wanting, into my lover’s salty
Mouth, twisting and tumbling in my
Eagerness. I cared not for the land
Wars of men--pah!--why should I,
I who have danced under the Tall Pines
Since the time before time?
Then, I hummed a woman’s song:
I am Keli Akimel, worshiped by
The Akimel O’odham, holy, sacred,
Scented with warm juniper, swirling and
Suserrating, heedless of men’s
Adoration in my haste to taste my
Lover’s salty mouth. What need
Have I for the regard of men? Then
Came a time within time, and
My dancing slowed, and though
Yet I was wet, I was left wanting.
Now, I whisper a dying song:
I am the Gila, and I do not care
For the land wars of men.
This is the time beyond time,
Ribboning out infinitely
Like the steel now stapled
Into the sand beside me.
--ai! ai! ai!--I shall never
Again know the wetness
Of my lover’s salty mouth.
Men have drained me of
My eagerness. Shadows of
Shining iron flicker past me.
I am forgotten, I am dry, and
I can’t remember how to dance.

Copyright 2010 Martha Kirby Capo