Though I’m a day late on the annual Poetry Slam for Brigid, the goddess of healing, smithcraft, and poetry, I’m chiming in now. She’ll forgive me. I was busy yesterday with getting the house ready for people to come through and see if they wanted to buy it, and then driving the dogs around whilst we waited for the tour to be over. This involved a lot of barking (on the part of the dogs) and pushing dogs back into the backseat (on the part of me).
In keeping with this whole let’s-pack-everything-up-and-move-back-to-Albuquerque theme, here is the poem I read at my retirement party, by a recent Santa Fe Poet Laureat, Joan Logghe (ironically, she is originally from Pittsburgh):
Something Like Marriage
I’m engaged to New Mexico. I’ve been engaged for 18 years.
I’ve worn its ring of rainbow set with a mica shard. I’ve
given my dowry already, my skin texture, my hair moisture.
I’ve given New Mexico my back-East manners, my
eyesight, the arches of my feet. New Mexico’s a difficult
fiance. I learned the word chamisa, and the plant takes an
alias, I plant trees for it, carry water to them. At
first New Mexico plays hard to get, says: “Learn Spanish.
Study adobe making. Make hammered tin light fixtures for the house.”
I’m engaged to New Mexico, but I don’t want to marry New Mexico.
It’s too large. It burps when it drinks beer. It leaves the
toilet seat up. It likes beans cooked with lard and chile
so hot that even people born here and nursed on a chile can’t take the heat.
I tell it, “I’ll date you, but I don’t want to marry you.”
“You promised,” it whines, “it’s been 18 years.” But I was younger.
Now I’m not ready to commit. I’ve been to Chicago. I’ve
seen Manhattan next to a man I love. I’ve dined on Thai
food in Boulder, Colorado. My mother tells me, “You could
do better. New Mexico’s not good enough for you.” I atell
her, but we’re engaged. It gave me these cuticles, these
dust devil eyes, and my Bar-None brand. But I have to admit,
even to mom, that I don’t love it anymore. Truth to tell,
it was infatuation, never should have gone on so long.
I bought rhinestones, and it threw them to the stars. I bought
velvet, and it made velvet paintings of coyotes.
I want to leave New Mexico, but it acts like it owns me.
I only wear red and black, the secret state colors, I dream
New Mexico license plates on all the cars in eternity. It
follows me everywhere like mesquite cologne. Calls me
senorita in a loud voice in public.
I love New Mexico in the dark, but I don’t want its kisses,
full of prickly pear and rattler. I want an ocean voyage.
I want a real state like Massachusetts, full of Pilgrims,
lots of grief and headlines. I want back my youth.
I’m flirting with Alaska. I’ve got a bad crush on Wyoming.
I’m even pining for my old love, Pennsylvania. My hope chest
is full of turquoise and Chimayo weavings. There are all
dusty and creased with years of waiting.
Dear New Mexico, I write. Meet me in Espanola at Ranch O’Casados
at 5 pm on Saturday. We have to talk.
It rides into Espanola on an Appoloosa. It carries a
lariat and ropes me in the Big Rock parking lot.
“Kiss me, darling,” it drawls. Its spurs reverberate.
See what I’m up against?