1. West Texas is big. When my father stroked out we drove east to Amarillo but going no closer nor further away than we usually were from his ravaged brain. Drove east to an ancient flint mine, a bar-b-que place twice the size of our city block, a large gin and tonic. Some things are so large there is no way around them. 2. a black square lifted from its border becomes a darkened window this time ringed by the San Juans snow peaks reaching into the heavens from Mesa Verde’s keyhole-shaped doors you can look out and see a world at war with itself actually you can see this from anywhere 3. a grid of red lines the word EXIT doesn’t exactly reassure me no more does the word “bittersweet” tell me where I’m going 4. this blue square aperture within me that I am hiding from you 5. there’s no yellow here rain streaking the dusty windows of the old house an ironing board that folds out of the wall a well worn grudge 6. my lungs have inhaled the waste of cities and the flight of a goldfinch 7. four quadrants of red cavalry of crosses by the ruined adobe Easter week 8. I walk away from the collage of women walking away with jars of water on their heads every plague is a liberator we’re leaving now outside the red frame 9. munching an orange or drawing an alligator pear 10. like sugar in tea or salt in soup the dream dissolves into morning 11. I think I saw you at least the pain under my sternum is familiar as I google breastbone location 12. the watch has a fast heartbeat ticking the minutes like an embryonic pulse time also unborn 13. tell me something about black that isn’t the absence of light rather the presence of chiaroscuro 14. grid of the city red lines in the Navajo rug an electrocardiogram of an imaginary feeling 15. in the rental house we discover what our hosts imagine is necessary for us: a plastic colander, vinegar, a measuring cup that measures 1/3 of a cup never a whole and what I imagine is necessary for us: a pot of purple tulips 16. there are no transitions a sandbar builds up slowly, by accretion grain by grain so too the storehouse of Egypt in Pharaoh’s dream. one day you are a slave the next, free 17. the San Juan peaks are covered in snow they rose inch by inch might still be rising but not quickly enough to deter even a casual mountain climber 18. the plagues seem sudden. G-d hardens Pharaoh’s heart to the annoyance of the seder guests who are increasingly ready to eat 19. rhe past also builds up bit by bit. It seems gradual, but suddenly it’s time to go. cut me a break. 20. at the end there is a blue window just as there was at the start really at any moment you can pause and look through it at the dirt road the neighbor’s raised beds waiting for the warmer bit of spring or look as if into a mirror but see the faces of other people those you’ve hated and those you’ve loved consider having this body fortunate
Miriam Sagan is the author of over thirty books of poetry, fiction, and memoir. Her most recent include Bluebeard’s Castle (Red Mountain, 2019) and A Hundred Cups of Coffee (Tres Chicas, 2019). She is a two-time winner of the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards as well as a recipient of the City of Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and a New Mexico Literary Arts Gratitude Award. She has been a writer in residence in four national parks, Yaddo, MacDowell, Gullkistan in Iceland, Kura Studio in Japan, and a dozen more remote and interesting places.
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