|San Felipe de Neri, Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico|
Monday, May 18, 2015
After Dinner with Ted at the High Noon Café
Cheese enchiladas and High Noon Margaritas
and our evening felt good. His arm on my waist,
we strolled around Old Town in the sweet desert cool
of an Albuquerque summer’s Saturday night.
Our knees weak from laughing, eager for each other
we left the bright square, with its crowd of turistas,
and turned the corner to my dark cobbled street.
Footloose, I stumbled in my blue high-heeled sandals.
As Ted caught and kissed me, I glanced past his shoulder
to see young Emilio standing under his porch light
in a blood-spattered shirt.
Against his thigh dangled
the glint of a knife.
He swayed from cerveza and cried “Mi hermano!”
I saw his brother, Tomás, collapsed at his feet.
From inside their casa, I heard women shriek.
I’d an impulse to help and moved toward the chaos
but Ted held me back and soon sirens grew loud.
A sad hour later, we watched from the shadows
as the police took Emilio and his brother away.
Green chili and tequila tumbled inside me,
in the sad, sobered quiet of my city’s Old Town.
With slow, quiet steps I walk
through the old stucco house.
Scents of citrus and rose
curl through windows barred
by carved wooden spindles.
A maiden’s chaste bedroom overlooks
the Mission of San Juan Bautista.
A fragile lace cloth, laundered fresh against the dust
of the Camino Real, drapes a small table
where the blue-robed Virgin prays, her painted tears
flow for the crucified Christ hung on the white-washed wall.
In old California, beneath this small window,
did a gallant play his guitar and sing to his love, lying
safe under the counterpane of this high narrow bed?
In his song did he compare her black hair
with the night sky and her skin with the moon?
Did his fingers strum passion and his melodies woo?
Did the heavy boots
of her father intrude,
his quick stride loud
on her clean wooden floor?
Did the youth hold his ground?
Oh so faint the ghosts of these three
in the shadowy hacienda I tour.
It might have been that way.
I almost know. How can I?But I do almost know.