The Pumpkinheads: Calabazos

One night I sat and watched a storm roll in from the west. I had just put my daughter to bed and my husband was at the other end of the house watching television. I saw the storm’s lightning under the shade in E’s room as I tucked her in.

I turned off all the lights in the house and stood at the big window in the kitchen that looks out onto the back pasture. I was surprised at how quickly the storm had come. Before, it was just distant lightning in the far west but now the flashes were high and overhead – lighting up the cloud-filled sky and making the trees and all the green grass jump into sudden color and detail.

Then, what happened next is what I want to tell you about. In a part of my vision – it was not my everyday vision, but I saw something liminal and wondrous in the next flash.

Walking in single file from the little stream that courses through the western corner of the back pasture came a line of people. I say people because I am not sure they were any gender at all, though they seemed to be wearing pants. They were short and stocky – wearing loose clothing made from coarse material. A baggy shirt with large, crude buttons, and a patch pocket and baggy pants – all made from dun-colored cloth. And instead of regular human heads, they had heads like large gourds, squash, garlic and onion heads. (Calabazas. Calabano, Caliban – for some reason, these are the words that come to mind.) They lumbered, nearly swaying like the trees – their stride long and their arms swinging.

I was so unnerved by what I saw, I instantly did not want to look out the window any longer, but a part of me was drawn to it. But I knew if I squinted and looked again as the storm rode harder and mightier, I would become severely frightened.

I ran to my husband – the lightning lighting up the whole inside of the house because of the skylights. I could not help myself but told him what I had seen.

“Oh good one,” he said (not in a sarcastic way, but as if he believed I had seen them). I told him I didn’t feel it was something scary or sinister, but that it was simply farming spirits in a procession from the Rio Lucero to Rio Pueblo, trudging through our yard, walking through our garage as if it was not there – all the way to the next river.

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