The sun set behind a low-hanging cloud,
masking dusk in depressed blue corn,
the copper-colored cockroaches emerged like a militia
and descended upon the cooling concrete in an act of war.
Neither of us were meant to be there,
while we say it was fate,
the reality is that you overachieved,
and I the opposite.
Some entrances are meant to be late.
Yours was a sweeping interruption
that disturbed everything in my system
spinning me into chaos.
That night my reflection in the duck pond exuded confidence
that I’ve never had before, nor will have again.
When we spoke, it was a whispery reverie
amongst the bustling streets and talking books.
A dictionary I was,
pocket-sized but complete,
with so many words fleeing my mouth,
a lifetime to share in those short hours.
This is where we met.
This is where we fell in love.
Amidst the fences and iron-barred windows,
while the pack of dogs surrounded us
on the unpaved sidewalks
and I held you so close
that your mother crossed herself and yelled “por dios.”
This is where men drink to be drunk
because it is a cheap escape.
(Can I say this?)
And the payaso at the party better speak
español porque los niños
no lo van a entender,
just like they don’t understand yet
why the piñata had to be Trump.
But the adults understand, all too well.
(Should I say this?)
This is where pigs are still slaughtered matanza-style
and the women sing louder than the actual recording
because they feel this particular balada
more than the artist ever could.
Where horses walk alongside passing trucks,
all headed to Wal-Mart.
Where crops are grown next to RVs,
permanence and temporality.
Where yesteryear and mañana are ambiguous,
where dreams are realized and lost
Rooting against Pacquiao as he defeats a nation of guerreros,
This is where we fell in love.
We return as tourists
but it is the city that has grown foreign.
Old Town is a microcosm of unbelonging
as we are constantly asked
Where we are from.
We drive past the site of our wedding
to reminisce about how far we’ve come
while La tiendita where I bought you gansitos
Everything is the same, except completely different.
We’re back here again,
older, stronger, at times, defeated.
Flanked by a dog who never knew desert heat,
we walk around the plaza at dawn
to escape what we’ve become: Outsiders.
Like so many before us,
this is where our worlds converged into one,
yet it never truly belonged to us.
But the home that we have in each other’s hearts,
replete with luminarias, can never be gentrified.
Among the Mexican serapes made in Pakistan
and the kachinas stripped of meaning,
against the backdrop of La capilla de Nuestra Señora
and a Walter White calavera,
We found forever.
This is where we returned.
Lay with me on serapes
and listen to the wind
rattle the rims at the nearby park
where goat heads populate the court.
They puncture globes
until they are soulless
and flat like the world has become again.
Walk with me in the open space
and scurry with the jackrabbits
who seek refuge as night falls on their empire.
Tonight the desert will be covered with broken bottles,
green shards replace green shrubs
and gun shots coyote howls.
Watch with me as the clouds
descend slowly from the Sandías
and spread west while splattering
the sky in soft hues of sandstone
so that the tranquility of the sky
offsets the bass of the lowrider.
Laugh with me at the paletería
because it reminds us of simpler times.
As the cheese envelops your doritos
And the night unravels into neon signs,
We gaze into a moon
That may never be again.
Dream with me while it pours outside
and hope that the acequias will fill with water again
so that all of this is not for naught.
Know that I love you for what you were
and what you will become.
We are surrounded by rage as progress.
This is where we grew together.
Time is not the same when you’re in love,
but the day will come
when I cannot battle,
when I can no longer war with the world.
Whether that is in ten years or ten lifetimes,
I ask that you bury me in the North Valley.
It is only there where the roadrunner still roams free.
Perhaps under an alamo,
next to our dog, I will rest.
Will you visit me each day
And laugh memory tears?
Will you curse me
for leaving you behind?
No solitude is everlasting.
Together we will look
upon the vast tracts of land
that we could never afford
or ever needed.
Our love still grows
because our home,
like our happiness, is in each other.
So we will curse the rich
and their lavender fields.
Then you will return home, but never truly alone.
I will appear in a cold morning breath in June,
or the sole hot-air balloon floating in December.
It matters not what others say,
For you know that it is never the end.
This is where we begin again.