before me

the part-ice, part slow-moving water
of the santa fe river that barely fills the channel i walk along
unbeknownst to me: wearing holes in the old soles of these six year old boots
the sweet sun-warmed history-held wood smell
of the main santa fe library branch’s southwest reading room
flanked with old wood tables lined with chairs and perched with
table top lamps
(a small scale version of photos i’ve seen
of old east coast university libraries
whose long tables feature a row of green desk lamps as well)
and along the edges of the room, generous wooden armchairs

like taos on steroids is my assessment
of ‘downtown’ (or would it simply be called the tourist district?) 
santa fe
whose monstrous adobe hotels loom large,
whose row after row of galleries and spendy restaurants spill before me

the man with a european accent
who steps out of the salon doorway
to hand me free samples
him in maroons and blues and a kind of clean
i can never achieve

encounters with the blue, green and gold stained glass windows
of the santuario
and the spanish-speaking men who flank it
and a chiminea here and there
the collection of which
could be interpreted as
a love note traveling the waves of time


midwest fest says the co-op cashier when someone mentions chicago
and all heads turn and we each reveal our own (or familial) midwestern roots:
green bay, milwaukee, cedarburg, madison
and, even though it’s not a competition,
my reaction is yes! i win!  when the man
who says he graduated from uw madison before i was born
reveals it was 1976
which is one year after i broke out of the womb
from the water world:

a stateless Arab boy from an ethnic group known as Bedoon, who are believed to be descendants of nomadic Bedouins, drinks water from a pot in a desert west of Al-Jawf region, Saudi Arabia. – voice of america, day in photos