Hey, listen. Don’t lose hope.
Just know that this glorious city of ours holds so much
more inside of her alleys and adobes than monsters and meth heads.
I know what it feels like to wake up each morning and search
for just one reason to hold onto hope.
I know that sometimes the bad far outweighs the good and I know
that my not good enough words are nothing like jackhammers.
They are whispers, wisps,
tiny drops of water disappearing into an endless and angry sea.
But I won’t stop and don’t you stop.
I can’t speak to you directly of her because
I didn’t know her.
What I can speak to you about
is the way my daughter’s blond hair
used to fall across her cheek when she was ten years old.
That her smile was pure sunshine and sometimes
just the sight of that would almost break my heart with joy.
I can tell you that evil walks this world on two feet
wearing sneakers or flip flops,
that the human heart is a labyrinth, a dark and frightening maze.
Albuquerque, we grieve as a city.
Our tears seep into the cracked and dry dessert,
onto the dust which surrounds her so sad grave.
These same tears also water ocotillo and pinon.
They rise like hot air balloons.
Did you notice that on the day of her death
you could smell fall in the air?
As if the entire earth had put its foot down
and declared you shall have not one more moment
of sweet summer in the face of this travesty.
All of this - the prayers, the sobbing,
the broken fucking hearts - comes together and holds her
tight, wraps her in feathers and the kind of bubbles
little kids play with in the bathtub.
Combs her hair softly before bed and reads her a story
about a castle and a dragon.
A fairy tale of warmth and love and human fucking kindness
and I don’t know
what kind of mother doesn’t love her daughter like that.
I don’t know.
I could have written this entire
poem to just say I don’t know because
I don’t know how we have come to this place.
What I do know is that I have spent
days crying, that my heart is shattered
like yours, that we cannot change what happened.
We cannot take away the blood, the pain, the fear.
What we can do is drop
our versions of sunshine & glitter into the world.
We can send them out day after day after day.
Even if we don’t see them come back to us, even
if we don’t know where they have gone.
I can assure you. Love makes a difference.
Love. I want to speak to you of love
but what about justice and what
about this wild rage in my chest?
We need to understand this.
she was not alone.
There are children in this world,
right this second, in situations of grave danger.
They cannot defend themselves because their hands
are too small and their hearts are too sweet.
I ask today that you hold onto hope.
That you heal one thing
even if it’s just yourself and then do it again
tomorrow, and the next and the next.
Because sometimes this is all that we can do.
For Victoria Martens, who died on August 24, 2016.
Afternoons flow like warm honey,
the sun a soft scar
in such a celebration of sky,
a hush holds you sweetly
like spring and summer
have fallen in love and
cannot stop holding hands.
Even a river could lose its way
but there is no river here,
only dust swirling between tufted grass
and silence swelling wide like a secret
that everybody already knows.
Nothing rushes in these clarion
canyons, not even water.
A mantis prays,
tilting her head heavenward
and I stand captivated.
I want to believe that she stands
in the gap, holds the line.
That she drops to her impossibly
small knees and implores the universe on my behalf,
each explosive morning and again through crisp, black nights.
If there is any justice in the world,
each of her meals is a dedication
to the gods of mother nature.
Each head torn off is a sacrifice and a curse.
A plea to end mankind’s pillage and bring blessed silence
back to these hollow sunlit mornings.
hands pressed together, head surrendered
to the heat of the dirt
and pray for the first time in my life.
The mantis tells me,
you are not lost.
You are inclining toward grace
and it is this place that will redeem you.
Note: this piece was written for the Literary Inventory of the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks, edited by Eric Magrane, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Geography at New Mexico State University. It was published at Spiral Orb.
On a whim, I decide to bake bread.
It’s not that I actually have the time –
I can hear the murmur
of remote meetings and emails
calling to me as I stand in the kitchen
absentmindedly searching my cupboards.
Flour, yeast, sugar, oil.
Basic ingredients but miraculous
to find them quietly waiting.
When was the last time I baked bread?
I remember vaguely that on bread baking day,
there was always the certainty that
at least one good thing has been accomplished
and I reach for that.
I measure and mix,
hold the slack weight of it in both hands.
Each movement takes me further from today
and closer to you.
Like that time you put your head into my lap
and cried. I think we both knew then
that nothing could save you.
It was quiet knowledge,
splintered and sure in our hearts,
but never spoken aloud.
Oh yes, now I see the connection.
It was that day you came beaming through my kitchen door
cradling a used bread machine in your arms.
You’d gotten it at a yard sale for $3
and brought it to me immediately.
So I could spend less time in the kitchen, you said.
I wanted to love it,
but it allowed no space for sinking knuckles deep into reverie,
there was no pounding worry and frustration into something useful
and solid like dinner rolls and farmhouse white.
There was an empty hole at the end of each loaf that couldn’t be ignored
so I returned to folding and kneading on a floured board,
but I left the bread machine on the counter so that
every time you came noisily through my door, you smiled.