NOTHING NEW HERE
Basia Miller, Santa Fe
This afternoon, I drove down Old Santa Fe Trail
to the boot repair shop with a plan to perfect
my old walking shoes with new shoestrings. My life
runs a gamut, like matryoshka, from large to small.
Mr. Jacobs unspools a length of black cord —
Do you want 40 inches? and razor-cuts it. His pliers
pinch copper aglets to the ends of each string.
Rows of wooden lasts sway on the wall.
Doll-sized leather boots crowd a display case.
The cash register’s perfectly good, he tells me.
It dates to the Twenties and it came with the place.
He goes on, The city archaeologist brought me a ledger
of Spanish maps of the Tenorio grant. He waves at the Trail.
Outside was just a path. My family was here.
He shrugs. Last century’s Spanish flu, it’s not so long ago.
Take my father’s birth and his father’s, soon you’re back
to seventeen-sixty-five when they built this adobe.
They’re nothing new either, animal diseases leaping to humans.
I say brilliantly, This one came from pangolins. Suddenly
he’s gone, to return with a dusty album. My curiosity’s piqued.
Pangolins look exactly like anteaters — here, you can see.
Ron Jacobs flips to a shot of a pair of tall boots
he built years ago from anteater skin, here in the shop
on Old Santa Fe Trail where I buy my shoestrings.
WAR CHILD’S LAMENT, 2020
Mary Ann Crowe, Santa Fe
Fallen leaves return to their roots — a Chinese Proverb
Alpine waters flow beside time-worn cobblestones where
I was born ten miles from Dachau in the “U.S. War Zone.”
Sacrifices from my American families, our unlikely
patchwork of allies divided by North and South,
united to free the medieval city of my birth —
amid ruins of plagues and war over centuries —
banishing that latest world-wide contagion,
even the cobblestones freed from harrowing sounds,
no more staccato from the boots of marching Nazis.
Yet today we hear America’s remaining World War II
refugees and Holocaust survivors report increased
levels of PTSD.
Some believe that death will return our souls
to a place we were before we were born.
So I’ll pray my soul shall not return to the small
Bavarian town up the Isar River, home to no friends
nor familial roots, where a forced labor camp once
supported Dachau’s gruesome machinations.
Let my seeds and last leaves nourish peace I’ve found
here with streets of old stone and mountain-fed streams
of the native Tewa White Shell water that sustained
No, my soul need not boomerang back
across the Atlantic —
all my beloved country a plagued
U.S. war zone now.
I TALK TOO MUCH
Paula Miller, Santa Fe
During this pandemic, my chattering self
talks too much to echoes, listens earnestly
to random noise bouncing back
off the walls of my brain
Replies come in Spanish and French,
once in a while in German
I’m amazed at my mastery of swear words,
little obscenities that slip out
and tiny bits of knowledge and wisdom
retained within the softness of my mind.
I hold grand conversations with nobody
check to see that somebody isn’t listening
which, of course, somebody is
and shaking her head at all this drivel
held within the envelope of my brain
I seem to carve chatter out of this confinement
without tipping over into insanity
Perhaps I am staying sane, remaining healthy
by carrying on these endless discussions in my mind,
In this pandemic pantomime of normal life,
I have become both erudite and crude,
a coarse reflection of hidden parts
of myself, kept safely in the netherworld
out of reach of my personal censor.
My husband’s voice often startles me
with words from outside my own skin,
tiny love arrows aimed at my whole person
I shudder with the transition from inside to out, [shiver, tremble]
from the soft matter living within my skull
to the firm warmth of human companionship.