sunday free writing

             Santiago awoke to the still morning. He looked wearily out of his bedding and then the tent and thought about how far away from his familia in Colorado he was. Hundreds of miles, he thought. But what could you do about it? Your legs were filled with the wanderlust.

            He arose this particular morning at seven o’clock. He was a tall and lanky and as he tucked his flannel shirt into his Levis he noticed just how thin he was. Thinned by ‘the habit’ as the Abuelita always referred to it when she spoke of the Abuelito. It was a quiet morning and the snow covered ground seemed flat and silent around him—no wind on the air. The sun was clear and cool in the blue empty sky. He wiped at his face with his leathered hand and then his neck and then ate breakfast.

            After that he began to remember Two Bear’s words and then he very much wanted to be back in Colorado.

inarticulateness

Free writing after a week’s worth of grading and lecturing seems more and more to be an impossible task. In the middle of a Saturday as I decompress and try to relax I do want to get down some ideas. I do still want to work on a more surreal storyline to this “Otherworld” material I was working on. But I also have this idea for an essay about writing—specifically writer’s block. How can I fight the boredom and time wasted and get it all down. I think this because more and more I have the time and ideas but just don’t have the ability to get them down. I type and the work is garbage—I even sense chapter two of the “Otherworld” project thing I want to work on seems very rough to me and requires quite a bit of work. I find myself riddled with self-doubt. I know what I want to say and what trajectory I want the scenes/plot to take but struggle from inarticulateness.

I’ll try to explain: Once my sister asked me to re-write the intro of an essay for her. This was back during the five minutes she was in school. And me being young and stupid and without the integrity I hold today worked on it for her. I gave it back and she was disappointed and critical. I thought this was going to be something wonderful. I thought you were a writer, she said. I can still hear her. And I remember telling myself that maybe I wasn’t a writer. Maybe I was better with homework and grammar than actually expressing something. I remember thinking about that very much. And perhaps that is why I enjoy Richard Hugo so much and his idea that every person—not writer—has a poem inside of them to contribute. I tell that also to my students and I rely on that from time to time through poor drafts and flawed fiction I find myself free writing.

And I remember reading the term inarticulateness from one of my favorite essays on poetry by Donald Hall. I used to give Hall’s essay “The Unsayable Said” to my poetry students. I enjoy how he explains:

All of us can ask directions or remark that it looks like snow. When we wish to embody in language a complex of feelings or sensations or ideas, we fall into inarticulateness; attempting to speak, in the heat of love or argument, we say nothing or we say what we do not intend. Poets encounter inarticulateness as much as anybody, or maybe more: They are aware of the word’s inadequacy because they spend their lives struggling to say the unsayable.

I often tell my students one does not have to be the smartest person on the block to be a writer. Not the most sensitive either. I forget where I stole that from. I also tell my students that part of my theory and pedagogy concerning the teaching of creative writing and perhaps writing in general has everything to do with failing—tripping up and stumbling before finding a more sure footing within a draft. Returning to the work and correcting over and over can be difficult and I believe I struggle with that more than writer’s block. I can write all day and get down draft after draft of similar stories but the inability to express something complex or intricate seems beyond me as well in draft after draft. More thoughts on this perhaps later…

more rough free writing

Very rough free writing but it felt good to get something down on Santiago and a possible second chapter to this:

The Open Llano

            The next night as Steadfast maneuvered farther through snow and ice the storm doubled in intensity. The mountains and the surrounding pines turned slowly into white blankets, pure and deep, forcing Santiago to slow. The Charro worried and emptied bottle after bottle and his mind began to slow. He wept and cursed his ridiculous life and fortune along the open llano. He considered turning round but the snow covered the ground and created ghostly dark shadows and leaving the man directionless and tired. It was as if someone had carefully arranged the land against the man and his gelding or so the Charro cursed under his breath. His mind ached with crudo thoughts. Then the poor gelding kicked up new blends of earth and whiteness and then Steadfast began to trip throwing Santiago down to rock and sand. The move was violent and shook the man nearly breaking his leg and ankle on rock growing from the mountain. The gelding as brave and true as he was spooked and ran as if the mountainside had wanted the two separated. He cracked his head to the ground and he cried out. He spilled his bottle. His vision whitened out and hour after hour as he struggled to crawl and then walk onto his knees calling out the gelding’s name. The white grew bigger and bigger around the man.

            A white horse stopped beside the Charro Santiago, and for a moment Santiago believed it to be more snow fallen from the great western sky. The horse grew larger and larger. The horse and the man studied one another until Santiago heard Two Bear’s great laugh and voice. Until the man felt Two Bear’s great arms around his waist and torso. The Abuelitos had taught the young man to be patient and days of war and hunger in North Africa had also taught the man patience but the drink and the freezing snow had softened his thoughts.

            What are you doing sleeping in the snow, my boy? Two Bears said. I’ve been stalking you. Waiting for you, my boy. It seems you’ve crossed over.

            The Charro said no words but only hung on Two Bear’s immense arms and strength.

The next morning Santiago found himself in Two Bear’s shelter—his tent and blankets enduring the snow through the night. Two Bears fed the man hot soup and scraps of White Bear’s tortallitas and bits of dried meat. Then he asked the weakened cowboy to explain why he would flee the village no matter the dreams and the advice given to him by the elders.

I tracked you through the snow, Two Bears said as he ate. I must admit I thought your ways with a horse would have left you in better condition. I forget how young you are, Charro. I forget how much you haven’t seen or experienced.

For Christ’s sake, Santiago said. The storm came in on me too damned fast—

I’m not talking of the storm. You ave to make you mind larger than that. It’s been coming for years. It simply caught up with you.

What the hell does that mean?

Sit up, Two Bears said. Let me have a look at you.

Two Bears began to examine the cowboy. Eyes, throat and the top of his head. His solar plexus and then the top of his head.

You are not pure, Cowboy, Two Bears repeated. You are not happy. That’s what brought you to me. Your problem is from the outside.

The large Two Bears pulled a crystal and held it in a make-shift manner to the morning light coming from the tent’s small opening. The hearts, he repeated. You have left this world in order to find the hearts that have been lost to you.

I lost my horse and took a fall, Santiago returned. What the hell are you talking about, Indian.

Santiago. Cowboy, Two Bears said. His immense hands took the man’s collar and shoulder. Then he said: Think of these days as a doorway out of the painful life you find yourself in. A world where nothing is hidden from you. The dead walk amongst us and where we must face our most fearsome outcomes. A spirit world that supports this world—holds this world. You don’t really believe you have nothing to hide from this world do you? You are not a foolish man. This I trust.

What the hell—

You will find what is lost to you in this world, Charro.

Dead people?

Living people. Ones lost to you. Family Friends. Those that are just dead meat and buried to you. Here they are not buried. They live and breathe. They tell secrets and know nothing of your world lost to them. They are at peace and travelling—always travelling on our thoughts and whispers. The see lies and truths. Truths forgotten and dead.

Victims?

At times. My people say they are rebuilding what was lost to them. Searching for you. To them you are the lost one. That is why they came to you in the dream. Your sister and wife. They need you to find something lost from them. Some pain they are carrying brings them to you. It is hard for me to explain. They have all the answers.

This is crazy—

I believe. The way you believe in La Virgen. I believe in this world. And so will you. You will see. They;’ve chosen you. That much is certain. This world wouldn’t be the way it is without them.

My world. You mean my horse and my work. This world is harsh and cold—diseased and filled with struggle. Winters that out last wood piles. My sister’s lives were cut short from disease—

It would be worse without them supporting, Cowboy. Trust me. They hold this world support her. They hold the mountain up. The seasons blow in on their voices and breathe and work. The horses muscle comes from their muscle—the muscle of all dead mustangs and geldings your people have worked into the ground. Thoughtlessly worked or hurt during your Charro ceremonies. The children of this world laugh and sing their games and songs because of lost children. It all builds off one another. They are the hidden hands of this world.

I don’t know what you say—

Think of it this way. Winter kills for others to be reborn in the spring. You see that don’t you? The balance of season’s changing. It is like that to us. They pull it all into being The Otherworlds make it all so.

How many worlds are there Two Bears?

There are four that belong to my people. But there is one for each of us. This is your Otherworld. I am just a visitor.

What about your wife? You’re leaving her behind to follow me.

She lives for me. And I live for her. But she believes as I believe and she will wait. As I have waited for her. She knows it is important to convince those who do not believe. You could not do this alone.

Why me?

You have the build. The holy men said so. Don’t you remember? They see and now so must you.

I am not your kind.

That doesn’t matter. You’ve seen so much as it is. You cannot deny. And we are all each other’s kind, Charro. Those constructions of differences are ours to give from this world. We can take them back if we decide. Do not look at where the world stops off. But where the next begins. You will see.

thurs free writing

I’ve been wanting to type out some free writing I’ve had down in my notebook for a while. I started with some dialogue relating to this ‘House of Two Bears” story I wrote years back. I’ve been wanting so badly to get back to this story and break it open into a wider story. And recently an idea came late at night—some notes I wrote down while half asleep into an email on my Blackberry.

This is what I wrote: It’s a way out of whatever awful life you’ve come to find yourself in.

Odd sentence but I imagine Two Bears is leading Santiago into another world—a world of dreams and of the unconscious. The Hopi religious view of four sustained worlds their people have emigrated out of into this world. Something like that. And I forgot about it until I was going over some student emails on my phone. I’ve wanted to get back into the fictive space of Santiago and Two Bears but I’ve had some problems. I’ve been reading Bradbury and Frank Waters and have wanted to bring these two sources together for a while but just the other day the characters started talking to me again. No idea what this little exercise means but it felt good to get down some dialogue:

Santiago. Cowboy. Think of it as a doorway out of the painful life you find yourself in. A world where nothing is hidden from you. The dead walk amongst us and where we must face our most fearsome outcomes. A spirit world that supports this world—holds this world. You don’t really believe you have nothing to hide from this world do you? You are not a foolish man. This I trust.

What else will I find your people’s world? Santiago asks.

What is lost to you in this world, Charro.

Dead people?

Living people. Ones lost to you. Family Friends. Those that are just dead meat and buried to you. Here they are not buried. They live and breathe. They tell secrets and know nothing of your world lost to them. They are at peace and travelling—always travelling on our thoughts and whispers. The see lies and truths. Truths forgotten and dead.

Victims?

At times. My people say they are rebuilding what was lost to them. Searching for you. To them you are the lost one. That is why they came to you in the dream. Your sister and wife. They need you to find something lost from them. Some pain they are carrying brings them to you. It is hard for me to explain. They have all the answers.

This is crazy—

I believe. The way you believe in La Virgen. I believe in this world. And so will you. You will see. They;’ve chosen you. That much is certain. This world wouldn’t be the way it is without them.

My world. You mean my horse and my work. This world is harsh and cold—diseased and filled with struggle. Winters that out last wood piles. My sister’s lives were cut short from disease—

It would be worse without them supporting, Cowboy. Trust me. They hold this world support her. They hold the mountain up. The seasons blow in on their voices and breathe and work. The horses muscle comes from their muscle—the muscle of all dead mustangs and geldings your people have worked into the ground. Thoughtlessly worked or hurt during your Charro ceremonies. The children of this world laugh and sing their games and songs because of lost children. It all builds off one another. They are the hidden hands of this world.

I don’t know what you say—

Think of it this way. Winter kills for others to be reborn in the spring. You see that don’t you? The balance of season’s changing. It is like that to us. They pull it all into being The Otherworlds make it all so.

How many worlds are there Two Bears?

There are four that belong to my people. But there is one for each of us. This is your Otherworld. I am just a visitor.

What about your wife? You’re leaving her behind to follow me.

She lives for me. And I live for her. But she believes as I believe and she will wait. As I have waited for her. She knows it is important to convince those who do not believe. You could not do this alone.

Why me?

You have the build. The holy men said so. Don’t you remember? They see and now so must you.

I am not your kind.

That doesn’t matter. You’ve seen so much as it is. You cannot deny. And we are all each other’s kind, Charro. Those constructions of differences are ours to give from this world. We can take them back if we decide. Do not look at where the world stops off. But where the next begins and you will see.

(Note: I still need to have some anxiety element from Santiago so that Two Bears will follow him/chase after him closer to four corners area while Santiago struggles with this idea. Perhaps Two Bears follows him and then Santiago drinks himself into a horse riding accident and Two Bears saves him. What would Two Bears and Santiago find in another world of the Hopi? Utes still living in Colorado in peace instead of kicked out. Santiago’s wife and sister alive to answer questions. Grandfathers and Fathers and all types of family to answer questions. Perhaps something dark concerning the death of his sister. Something like that.)

living with ghosts

I’ve been participating in a writing group for the spring semester and it’s been going pretty well now. I was pretty loose with the group though I wanted to be clear with everyone early on in communicating my hopes we would not be a writing group but rather we would be more rigorous and approach the work as a writing workshop. The distinction is important to me. And we lost a few writers along the way because of the distinction I’m afraid.

But I think it is important for me to know when I need to be back in a workshop type atmosphere and of course I use workshop or the MFA model of work shopping with my students in creative writing–and I do wish I could implement more of the workshop model from composition but the logistic never seem to work out– but it is quite another thing to have “my” work in writing group. To have my work or my stories “work shopped”. I do try and stay objective about my own work and the whole experience has been about opening up my work to those around me a bit more other than anonymous editors. But the issue lately for me has been less about the form and more about the content. Funny because I always preach the most important part of writing is dealing with form. My pedagogy and theory concerning writing and the teaching of writing is all about structure and brush strokes. But this last workshop reminded me of the problems with opening up work to others. Just sitting in a room where everyone is discussing my family–talking about my Lolo–and the persona I’ve created in my work is difficult. The therapy aspect of writing comes out I guess. And dealing with those ghosts has been a problem in my personal life and the work I do as a writer makes it all spill over into the professional. Makes me have to deal with fictional relationships within stories and within scenes but also somewhat makes me deal with those ghosts from the past and the family. Funny that I tell my students in ethnic lit that past voices and texts are so important for the individual to create a sense of identity and most of the time I am fighting those past voices and text—yes texts because the family writes me letters from time to time—and part of my survival technique has been to suppress those voices and stay focused on the present—focus on not ‘how it was’ but rather ‘how it is’. This way I have learned to endure and stay strong but again it is difficult to when you are sitting in a room discussing characters and actions based on actual folks from the old neighborhood. And I imagine most writers consider this idea of what is real and what is created and the distinctions and the limitations. I need the real world Lolo to reach further into the fictive space or the fictive world of Huerfano County/Pueblo County of my youth. I know how important those real paper are in finding those ghosts/wraiths that are also created in the stories. I rely on them to talk to me and inform me of line and trajectory for these little stories. So as much as I hate them and fight at them I realize how important they are to my work. Even those I am completely lost too.

And maybe it is all due to me rereading Maxine Hong Kingston and re-viewing old interviews of her for my ethnic lit course. In “No Name Woman” she writes of her real and imagined aunt: My aunt haunts me—her ghost drawn to me because now, after fifty years of neglect, I alone devote pages of paper to her.

Carlos for example. A man I have no idea as to his life or his thought process. A man who only exists in picture and story from the Abuelita and from other relatives and their lost voices. I think I only met the guy once but I return to him almost every other night or so at my desk trying to get him down. The work trying to give life to him–turning the ghost into flesh and blood on the page. I look at his picture and try to recreate those old stories. It’ll be odd for me when the group reads some Carlos stories and speak of him.

 

revision–carlos’ unexplained sighting

Been a while since I had a breakthrough in what I’m working on. But this one has been flat for a while and finally stole some inspiration from old Bradbury stories I’ve been rereading while I should be doing work.

Carlos’ Unexplained Sighting

That night the old man drains beer and rum and RC Cola down at SLV Bowl, just outside of Hooper, Colorado. He drinks that night over his young wife and he drinks over his lack of dollar bills.

From the highway, the passing headlights burn at his face and eyes, fill the cab of his truckito with shadows and wrong thoughts. The night skies remind Carlos of dark grey, snowy roads though the heat rises off the two lane flat top. Headlights pinch between passing cars, when his own engine, like his own breathing, coughs and hiccups and then recovers before finally dying. The road is still and flat but he manages to coast in the engine’s compression and as he works the choke he has to pull onto the shoulder of sand and broken gravel. It all cracks under his bald tires.

            In its middle age the truckito has failed him but he refuses to believe it initially. Just some dirt in the fuel line or maybe he has miscalculated the level of gasoline, maybe a short circuit with the battery or distributor points, maybe the plug connections. Something he could cure before not too long, he thinks. But turning off the lights and trying at the starter again and again brings no result and he waits for the smell of gasoline from the flooded carburetor. Eventually he opens the truckito up to the night and lets himself out onto the sand and chipped gravel. He finds his semi-automatic pistola.

            The warm air surprises him and dizzies him. The headache hits the whiskers on his beard so he curses the night and the truckito and the reasons for his own drinking. He watches headlights passing and his eyes sting with water and ache in the harsh luminescence of the starry night sky. His eyes squint more and more and his eyes begin to ache deep down into his brain. Beside the dead truckito he stands with his head bent listening to the engine and there was no sound.

            Indecisively seeking assistance, he waves the gun at passing cars and truckitos with no luck and then he begins to pace and walk up the road and then back down the road refusing to leave his car for dead. Soon there is no sign of light around him and the shadows of the highway and of the night press inward and he walks around his truck again and again seemingly lost before lifting at his hood and searching for wires and connection that may have gone wrong. He awkwardly holds the metal weapon in his armpit as he works and his hands begin to ache as well as his eyes and his ankles even in high boots begin to throb as he steps.

            Who’n the hell are you? he thinks into the black emptiness around him. Not a busted coil or a distributor, he thinks. Who’n the hell are you to do this to me?

            He pulls his pistola and leans on the fender. He kicks at his boots and then unlaces them and then frees his aching feet. Drains the last of his bottle hidden away in his coveralls. He switches on the headlights to see what they reveal on the empty shoulder and he eyes a small rail fence. Even in his drunkenness he knows the highway as the lifeblood of the valley. No one passes up a broken down truckito. No one would leave a working man down and out. Soon a Compadre or a farm worker would be passing by and stop to give a push or a tow with a strap chain. He never thinks how a man with a gun and drinking from a wine bottle wearing no shoes would look to passers-by. A man carrying a pistola to fight the spirits that may come. But no one comes along and fifteen minutes turn to thirty and one farm truck slows but never stops and Carlos is too drunk to wave it down—too drunk to stand at one point and crumbles down past the tire well and then finally against the old bald tire. In many years, he will remember being alone under such a dark San Luis sky.

That was when the flames flew in. He wants to believe they are imagined or sad hallucinations from his drinking. He feels the heat on his face and along the seams of his pants. The stars plunge down where the moonlight meets the horizon and from the blue glimmer of starlight. The flame and spark gives rise to gooseflesh in him thought long dead since he was a small boy in New Mexico. He feels spooked and begins to sweat and struggle in his drunkenness. Struggles to his feet and then struggles for air to breathe. His legs ache and his bare socked feet begin to burn beneath him.

There had been so many times in his youth where he was out walking and lost in nights like this. Nights where your eyes deceive or your head loses its sense. Told stories as a boy of La Virgen de Guadalupe appearing to lost travelers and filling lost souls with her beauty and her love. Bullshit stories. Indigenous legends of portals and doorways out of this world the Abuelitos talked as they sat around with sweetened coffee and Compadres. Deaths in los campos and cattle left mutilated he thought only to scare little mocosos. That is all bullshit like the rest of the pinche churches rules and regulations concerning life, he thinks. Carlos had learned at an early age to stay away from such superstitions—to think and measure and work. But the Blanca Massif, the great mountain to the east, looms above him as the flames come in that night abruptly and he picks himself up to escape. To run and leave that lonely truckito and his tools. To walk ahead to the nearest home he can find.

He admits to himself he is terrified and must escape to the sand and gravel of the shoulder littered with beer bottles flung up from limitless amounts of traffic waves and then across the blacktop towards the great Sand Dunes. But those flames decide to follow and seem to be gliding above him, hovering over his truckito and then above him as if La Virgen had become attracted to his wretched self. With his eyes burning and his feet aching from walking barefooted he runs and stutter steps in the red and white light above him. At that moment he wants La Virgen so bad it overwhelms him. I will have her, Carlos thinks. He fires several rounds into the fire. She is mine. I will take her.

The bright burst of his weapon flashes in the night sky. He looks up and the metal flashes again and again and a minute later the bright light lands around the viejito and engulfs arms and then his legs settling around him. Carlos hasn’t run in years and, though his joints ache and his limbs burn, he sets them free to run. He empties his pistola of all cartridges and staggers and then stutter steps. Falls to one knee and then recovers. His eyes shut and then open to the flames and their heat. Lungs filling with the smoke and ash as he coughs and gags. The old man vanishes into the fire. There is no direction or highway for the old man only the flames and burning to his skin. He grits his teeth and hollers as loud as he can. In the center of the flame is where the man drowns in his past. Sinks into memories growing up like moss inside of his worst thoughts and angers.

High strange flashes and visitation occur in the darkening sky around him. The sounds of the sweet mother advising the twelve year old Carlos, Don’t be a lost soul like your old man, Mihijo. Before the first day of his Catholic schooling, as he stands in white collared shirt and corduroy pants that is the uniform for boys, the father, Ignacio Montoya, telling the boy, You should be in coveralls and working in the damn fields. Then the father slapping at the boy’s chin and mouth, more pushing the boy back onto his heels of his church shoes and clothes. The sounds and views from the boys’ study room of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception; the corner window overlooking a lawn, and a sunken lane between pine and spruce trees out to a low stone wall that surrounds the place. And beyond the school’s wall, the trees giving way to narrow gates onto the llano opening up to the horizon where mountains between road and sky meet with a band of brown road.

Flashes of the Compadre Benito who only thinks of play and wine. We can get to the wine Carlos, he whispers before being caught and cracked by Sister Manuela. Father John catching the boys lighting a cigarillo before sending them home. The chaw he keeps in his mouth before the second service and then after the third service chomping naively at a larger piece. As he walks home he feels light-headed and dizzy, unstable reaching for the side of buildings to balance himself when he finds the old woman Rodriguez’ flower bed just blocks from home to fertilize. His stomach churning and his legs striding towards the back outhouse.

Synaptic lighting flashing on his father’s pipe as he scratches at his whiskers lecturing the boy on how a man must make a living working God’s land in 1908—the year Carlos, along with his brother Lalo took the train to San Luis from their home in Mora, New Mexico. The father’s voice denying him to continue in school. His mother’s sullen face turning him away to his Grandmother at age fifteen. The father tearing down the unpaved driveway after a half hug and present of an old pocket knife. The rain on his face as his Tio fishes in a rainstorm before leaving the boy to his Grandfather. The Compadre Julian who leaves for war duty only to write letters and die without record or notice to the family. The Abuelito’s hacking furniture and cabinets for the wood furnace in the middle of a late winter New Mexico storm.

Crackling transport of thoughts on the disapproving looks from his own face as his brothers and some of his Compadres from work camp days move on to steady work—out to Southern Colorado to the coal mines and steel mills of Huerfano County. We never were brothers if you drive off, Lalito, Carlos screams in memory. The look to his first wife’s face as he slaps and punches her down behind the bed in their first home in Belen, New Mexico just months later. The afternoon his hand slaps his youngest boy so hard he has to be ridden out to the hospital in Alamosa and how the man drains his bottle in between parked cars as he waits for the boy to be stitched up.

The afternoon his oldest boy runs into the mountains as Carlos chases after. Carlos’ second wife Theresa and her frantic tears during love-making after leaving her family in New Mexico to be with Carlos in 1915. The voice of the Compadre Luis who leaves in 1917 to find work at the Steel Mill in Huerfano County because the two can’t agree on how best to fertilize their crop—Luis insists they spend more money on machinery but Carlos insists they work as he is taught in New Mexico. The men are lost to one another after the incident.

The highway disappearing into Horseshoe Lake after the flood of 29. The smell of the no-named woman of who gave Carlos his daughter only to die of la viruela in the winter of 32. The day he sends his only daughter to live with his mother who swears the man will burn if he doesn’t do right by his oldest girl Tranquilena.

            The smell of rain on the afternoon his wife Theresa dies in her bed to la gripe, leaving him three young boys and an infant daughter. The infant, Tranquilena, he sends out to live with his mother in Mora leaving the boys to stay on the farm. The snow and wind off of the Penitente Peaks that follow in 1936 after the second wife passes during childbirth. The first buyout offer comes from the Brow Farming Company.

The joy in the mirror after meeting Josefina Marquez who wears a red dress when they meet at the Stampede Street Festival. Drinking and sitting alongside the woman with a table filled with Compadres at one of the tri-county potato growers’ tents. The pride Carlos feels fathering three more boys with the Marquez daughter before she passes on. The harsh light of the doctor coming to the home and telling Carlos in his own kitchen his wife has ‘the cancer’ at the same time he tells Carlos the woman is pregnant with his latest child. Months later Josefina dies giving birth.

The fire burning as the last wife Felipa the afternoon she knows she has a newly built house with a brand new Frigidaire and woodstove. All she knows is that her new husband comes home each night and comes home at the end of each week with a paycheck. That is when the nagging begins, her voice droning through the walls to Carlos’ inner ear to which he can only respond: Dammit, Mujer! No more children! 

These voices of time and wind and change form the heat covering his body. He squirms out of his coveralls and then his long underwear he wears no matter the month or the season. He throws off his flannel and then his undershirt until only bare skin protects him from the heat and the humidity of the night air. He leaps over heavy fence wire that stabs at his forearms and then his thighs. His skin aches as burned leather as the garbage from the incinerator in the many work sites of his memory. The old man feels his body vanishing from the storm of heat.

He crosses a stream and then comes to a clearing, the flames still the color of mercurochrome and blinding silver. The old man gasps tired but keeping pace. And, finally, after lurching and stumbling, he collapses in a ditch south of Alamosa surrendering his consciousness to the valley floor that surrounds him.

And it isn’t until the grey light of morning, when whetto Deputies and their flashlights find the burned up 36 Chevy half ton with New Mexico plates and the blackened primer colored panels. Tires only burnt rubber and stains to the single lane flat blacktop. Then the old man passed out and sleeping with no shoes or pants. The clothes nowhere to be found, perhaps thrown. No signs of burns or melted flesh. There is no sign of his wallet, the empty bottle or his pistola. The men are quick to laugh at such a sight. Hello? they tell him as they slowly wake him. Anybody home?

La Virgen, are the first words they hear him mutter.