Now and Then

24 July 2018

AA 2712


To Merl


I am taking in the earth as it moves from Texas to New Mexico. I think of Mother and Dad, of their decision to make that move, too, with you in their arms. I am grateful for both. I am grateful for you. I find myself because of the ways you know yourself. I keep learning you.


This New Mexico, this step from caprock to plains, then to rivers and mountains and mesas and cliffs, and always the vast blue, blue, blue skies, the ones Mother needed and loved and kissed with her insistence on being there, nowhere else — this New Mexico is my heart’s beat somewhere before it beat at all. Rapturous now in Christopher’s (and my) England, I return each year to a primal sweetness for me. I run with my arms open to its simplicity and its stories of pain and of love over centuries.


I carry you with me.






5 May 2021

I am 75 now. You are 81. Mother and Dad and the big house, the willow, the vacant lots abutting and stretching our own, the winding terracotta porch, the jacks and jump rope, the pretending in PEO taffeta gowns to be on a ship from there to here are over. Only disappointment greets if we return. Returning takes us to now, not to then. Returning desecrates. Recalling resurrects. Recalling is enough.

So I recall Clovis, but I return to Santa Fe. I return to its now, its cerulean, its adobe, its native genius allowing me their worship, noticing earth touching sky, forgiving me and my kind, or maybe not. I stand under that sky and ask nothing more of this luminous and liminal second.

There I return, happily, to now.







Yesterday I remembered Willa Cather. Her singular take on New Mexico, a simple, sad, struggling occupation she imagined. Priests, sent to save, savaged even the soul, the sold. Beautifully told, heartbreaking – a tender euphemism for barbarism.

But this I loved:

“Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth is the floor of the sky. The landscape we longed for when we were far away, the thing all around us, the world we actually lived in, was the sky, the sky!”