Grew up in a desert land
don’t need much water to survive
if I drink too much I pee often providing moisture for other living things. I adapted to dryness like the cacti
a little prickly and comfortable alone
better able to cope with the coming drought
than the people who live near the sea.
Their cells demand lots of fluids
need to immerse themselves in water,
they seek green environments
while I thrive in the barren landscapes
among the mesas and Joshua trees.
There was a time when clothes seemed to shrink
but now it's the world growing smaller steps that lead to the sidewalk
are too high, the distance to the curb too far
the weight of a bag of groceries, cumbersome
and heavy, the height of a cabinet too far
to reach for the slow cooker on the top shelf
the mind still expanding, still wonder and search
for ideas and conversations,
many of them
of how things used to be
try not to focus on how the world is shrinking
and simple things have gotten too hard to complete.
couldn’t find anything
finally settled on the red dress
with the flirty skit that moved when I twirled
my three inch heels, a diamond bracelet,
a small clutch, and I
was ready to party.
My date didn’t show,
my girlfriends tried to console me
offered one drink, then two,
by closing I had too many.
I was loud and wanted to fight
but they held me back
with a girl who was wearing
a dress like mine.
I screamed out loud, “Let me at her!”
they held me, didn't let me go
I broke away and stood next to the tramp
but realized she was only my reflection
in the bar room mirror.
Time to go home
wipe my tears, sleep a few hours
and maybe tomorrow figure out
what to do.
A block of ice, some saws, a torch
and a plan to unlock the sculpture inside.
A faithful team, like a surgical crew,
handing the tools and keeping things clean
A change of clothes, a cup of Joe
after the project is completed.
Photos are all that remain when the art
melts and the masterpiece disappears.
To tell my story about Tomé, New Mexico I must tell about
the environmental conditions that in winter produced snowstorms and torrential
rains leaving deep scars permanently changing the fragile landscape while in
summer a sweltering stage where dust devils twirled tumbleweeds across mosaics
of curled red tiles. A land so flat I can look in every direction and see the
occasional mesa and every small adobe houses built haphazardly along a maze of
dirt pathways and irrigation ditches. When I see the splash of colors I can
locate the vegetable garden of chili peppers, corn, beans, onions, and
To tell the story about my mother I must tell about Tomé,
New Mexico where in winter snowstorms and torrential rains leave deep scars
permanently changing the fragile landscape while in the summer dust devils
appear on the sweltering stage to twirl tumbleweeds across mosaics of curled
red tiles. The land is flat except for the occasional mesas and small adobe
houses built haphazardly along a maze of dirt pathways and irrigation ditches.
The splashes of color reveal the vegetable gardens of chili peppers, tomatoes,
beans, onions, and corn.
Stephanie carried in two large envelopes from the mailbox.
She opened the first one. The blood rushed from her cheeks, her eyes fluttered
and tears spilled down her cheeks. She squeezed her eyes tight to keep her
“Anything wrong?” Jarred asked.
She didn't say anything but opened the second envelope
before she spoke, “Talk about coincidence. This letter is from my mom. Uncle
Mort died and I’ve inherited his store in Arizona. Here is the deed and the
keys to his place.”
“ What are you going to do with it?”
“I think I’m going to move to Arizona.”
“Just like that?”
“I’ll quit my job, trade my BMW in for a pick-up truck and
sell this place.”
“Are you leaving me?”
“Yeah.” She tossed the first package at him. “You didn’t
think I"d find out?”
“What is this?”
“Pictures of you. My friends thought I should know. They
downloaded them from the internet.”
“ I expect you out of here tonight.” Stephanie said.
“Anything you don’t take I’ll toss.”
“Don’t you want to hear my side of the story?”
“No. I want you out."
... and just like that he was gone. Getting rid of Jarred
was easier than Stephanie expected. She had the facts and there was no way he
could defend or excuse himself so he was out of there by night fall. She was on the road by the next weekend.
The six-hour trip was uneventful but hot. She spread the map
out on her legs to keep the sun from burning her thighs through the windshield.
She had to drive another five miles after exiting the freeway and then she saw
it, a dilapidated artifact from the 1940’s with a tall sign out in front.
“Mort's General Store,” was written in large block red letters.
"What have I done?" she said to herself as she
drove up to the front porch.
An old woman came out of the front door and watched as
Stephanie parked the car.
“You must be Mort’s niece,” she said. “ I’ve been running
the place since he died. Didn’t seem right to close it up since folks around
here need supplies and such. I hope you don’t mind. My name is Ellen Haywood.”
She moved out on to the porch with her hand extended to greet Stepahanie. “Mort
and I have been friends for years.”
“Hello, I’m Stephanie Evans. Mort’s my mother’s brother.
Glad to meet you,” Stephanie said walking up the steps on to the porch and
shaking Ellen’s arthritic hand.
“The living quarters are attached to the store. Walk in and
you’ll see the blue door towards the back. That’s where you’ll live,” Ellen
said pointing through the open door of the store. “I can go on taking care of
things while you settle, or leave if you want me out of here. It’s your call.”
“No, that’s fine. You can stay. I need time to catch my
breath. I think I’ll get by bags and unpack a few things,” Stephanie said,
turning back to the car. She gathered up her purse and her duffle bag. “I
wasn’t expecting to find the place so easily,” she said crossing the threshold
and stepping into the musty cool darkness of the store.
“Year’s ago it was busy enough from tourist traffic but with
the new highway it was left for the locals but Mort always seem to make enough
money to stay in business,” she said following Stephanie close behind. “You can
see he beat his costs by keeping only the essential inventory.”
Stephanie looked around. The bulk of the inventory consisted
of beer, candy and cigarettes. There were a few soft drinks, some milk and eggs
and a rack full of magazines. When her eyes adjusted she was able to make out
Ellen’s features which resembled a dried up apple doll with a little scruff of
hair peeking out from under her kerchief. Stephanie noticed the sound of
Ellen’s breathing and worried the wizen old woman would soon be joining Uncle
Mort in the great beyond.
She was grateful Ellen prepared lunch and stayed long enough
for her to shower before heading out to the neighboring lot. Stephanie watched
her new acquaintance make her way across the dusty pathway to her small rusted
blue and white trailer. It was after 1:00 P.M. and the interior of her Uncle
Mort’s General store had gotten hotter. No customers had come since she had
been there. She looked into the cash register and counted out $84.00 in cash
and $10.00 worth of change. “Doesn’t look like there were too many customers
here before I arrived either… that’s not good.”
Maybe she wouldn’t have loads of business but she would have
the cleanest business in the area and without further hesitation Stephanie
found the cleaning supplies and started scrubbing. She washed the counter tops,
refrigerator doors, the windowsills, windows and doors. She swept the floor,
dusted everything and stopped only long enough to have dinner and then she
continued cleaning until past midnight.
When she woke in the morning there were a handful of people
waiting at the door. Bill Cranston, Laurie Lawson, her sister Lucy and George
Fillmore and his dog Drake. They were chatty enough and seemed more interested
in getting acquainted than buying anything although a few purchased some
scratch off lottery tickets and cigarettes. The conversation centered around
Uncle Mort and what a good guy he was and how much they would miss him and then
one by one they went on home.
The day ahead seemed to be an oasis of solitude something
Stephanie was not too familiar with so she got busy looking at the accounting
books, inventory lists and vendors. Her Uncle Mort was an aerospace engineer
before he retired to the desert and his meticulous habits were evident in the
almost computer like lettering and numbers and careful filing of all his
paperwork. Everything was easy to find and easy to understand. She was done in
less than an hour.
The expanse of time before nightfall began to feel like a
bottomless pit. She wanted to avoid falling into the darkness so looked around
for something else to do. The interior was done maybe there was something to do
on the outside.