Sunday, November 29, 2009

From Chicago to New Mexico

Paul and I just spent a beautiful week in Chicago and the Chicago suburbs with his family. I love to visit there--the Christkindl German Market on Daley Plaza (drinking mulled wine, eating brats and fresh strudel) followed by the lighting of the Christmas tree with hundreds of Chicagoans. The lights along Michigan Avenue. A sumptuous Thankgiving dinner served up by Theresa and Mike Resnick. Breakfast at Max and Benny's.

Paul came to New Mexico over 24 years ago, as a freshman at UNM, and never left. And he'll never leave. He has lived in New Mexico as many years as I have, regardless of the fact that I was born and raised (to age 18) in Santa Fe. Paul is like so many others; New Mexico is home to them and they feel as fiercely devoted to this place, landscape, and people as those who have been here for generations.

This year, I am thankful for everyone who has made Santa Fe and New Mexico their home and who works hard to improve life for its families, for its elderly, and for those who protect the land and water, here, at every step.

I am also thankful for Paul, my family, my friends, and for all the amazing people who I've been able to work with in my tenure as Poet Laureate, including the Lines and Circles families. I am very lucky and very fortunate.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Poem


Long ago, in a class with N. Scott Momaday,
after reading his Way to Rainy Mountain,

considering a blurb on the back cover that read:
“This book nags at the White man’s conscience,”

a twenty-something woman declared,
that she would not and could not feel guilty

for terrible things her ancestors had done
that she had nothing to do with, and hated.

Michelle, a seventh generation New Mexican,
fingers tacos in a booth at Tomasita’s¸ says

"It’s hard to live this way, Hispanic, Latina,
whatever you want to call me, when I do love

our traditions, when mother’s side claims pure
Spanish blood, and knowing Oñate

and the others tore through this land hell-bent
on conversion, ownership, blood on their hands.

Was there no one like me, then, against these ways?"
And Luis, on the La Luz Trail, showing me

hoary cress, wild candytuft, Alpine clover, saying
"Which part of me is Navajo grandmother,

Chicano father, White mother? Feet to femurs,
pelvis to pecs, shoulder blades to the top of my head?

Sometimes, I don’t know where each begins and end;
they rage at each other in my veins. Someday,

I am going to write a letter to each man in me,
in me, Indian, Mexican, White, who never forgets."

Shé éí Valerie yinishyé—I know there is no way
to sever the blood ties that tether me to my ancestors,
to history. They are the same umbilical that roots me
in the land. I grieve for what my Spanish ancestors
wrought as a result of ignorance, greed, want,
and the dictates of far-off governments.
And if they also brought forms of beauty
(here, on the streets of this capital city)
I remember that there are no adequate reparations.
No. I apologize. I realize my obligation to honor
the survivors and their ways as if, one snowy afternoon,
I come upon their cave dwelling, camp, village, pueblo,
a half-woman asking for food, hearth, finished limbs,
and a heart made complete by association.

VM, forthcoming in And They
Called It Horizon
, Sunstone
Press, 2010

Monday, November 2, 2009

SAGE Magazine 20 Women Making a Difference Luncheon

Please join me and nineteen other winners of the SAGE Magazine "Twenty Women Making a Difference" Award for a luncheon this Wednesday, November 4th at 11:30 a.m. at the Sandia Resort in Albuquerque. I am honored to be part of this group of women--their accomplishments are simply wonderful.