Jimmy Santiago Baca

(2 January 1952 / Santa Fe, New Mexico)

Choices


An acquaintance at Los Alamos Labs
who engineers weapons
black x’d a mark where I live
on his office map.
Star-wars humor….
He exchanged muddy boots
and patched jeans
for a white intern’s coat
and black polished shoes.
A month ago, after butchering a gouged bull,
we stood on a pasture hill,
and he wondered with pained features
where money would come from
to finish his shed, plan alfalfa,
and fix his tractor.
Now his fingers
yank horsetail grass
he crimps herringbone tail-seed
between teeth, and grits out words,
“Om gonna buy another tractor
next week. More land too.”
Silence between us is gray water
let down in a tin pail
in a deep, deep well,
a silence
milled in continental grindings
millions of years ago.
I throw my heart
into the well, and it falls
a shimmering pebble to the bottom.
Words are hard
to come by, “Would have lost everything
I’ve worked for, not takin’ the job.”
His words try to
retrieve
my heart
from the deep well.
We walk on in silence,
our friendship
rippling away.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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