Voces Fronterizas

Border Voices Festival, 1996

Edited by Belinda Subraman

Voces Fronterizas is the first local anthology to include such wide representation and diversity of writing talent. A significant portion of this collection is centered around the border/frontera experience of El Paso. Since we are a city which sits on the Mexican border, we have a unique learning and sharing experience which we have every right to treasure and celebrate. --Belinda Subraman

From my essay, Couch's Spadefoot Toad, excerpted from Seasons in the Desert:

In summer, after months of searingly hot and dry weather, moist air masses sweep over the Southwest's deserts from the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California. Fluffy cumulus clouds build and coalesce into towering cumulonimbus. Cold gusts of wind sweep across the desert, cloud bellies burst open, and curtains of water pour down, accompanied by brilliant stabs of lightning and booming crashes of thunder. The storms dissipate as quickly as they form, leaving the land splattered with temporary puddles and ponds. The brief abundance of water triggers the emergence of many desert lives, including spadefoot toads.

Spadefoot toads, little toads with big voices, appears as if by magic in noisy abundance after the summer rains. These sapitos--little toads--are among the desert's most paradoxical residents. They cannot reproduce without water; yet spadefoots are found sin some of the continent's driest places. Like all amphibians, spadefoots breed only while afloat, and their tadpoles are aquatic. And, unlike most desert residents, spadefoots possess spongelike, porous skin which offers no protection against dehydration. Exposed to the thirsty desert air, these sapitos dry as hard as old leather in a few hours. How can they survive in the sere landscapes where they live? ...