This Place She Goes
[ – to continue without pause in a specified direction in order to touch or grasp something – ]
Only one of three photos my mother as a girl once dealt like poker on the dining room table after visiting her home after ten years away to walk the ground we both still walk side by side on the tratteggio of a time I cannot have and cannot hold but am allowed to copy with an iris of light from a portable scanner swallowing whole all I can hold of this gift she gave or maybe affliction like the space in a mirror between the silver and the glass shimmering at just the perfect angle for the briefest of moments a glimpse clear through to the other side.
The fingers get me it’s the fingers that wound the pale child fingers barely even there in the center of the frame I can almost feel the tickling daisies through the fading-erasing-dissolving white wing of overexposed emulsion from a sister or a brother or a long dead cousin reaching out to my mother to make her grin or make her laugh at something unsaid or something unseen a joke or a burp say cheese for the camera it’s good to see her so happy like this a piece of evidence of something like joy but it’s also sad and a little unsettling the absent presence taking so much away nearly half of this moment consumed by smoke from an oil drum fire where forgotten things go or maybe it’s incense in the stained-glass glow of receding prayers and yes it’s tempting to call it the loss I know is coming on the llano wind to tremble the candles of bedside lilies where her little sister wheezes rheumatic cotton breath and her aunt’s high heel slips on the tracks of a departing train and my much older father smiles through cigarette hospital pneumonia and her Parkinson’s parents sleep with crosses laid atop their pillows but that’s not what I see it’s more that her life will be held in place by a negative space bringing into relief all she has by all she does not and granting her the most beautiful of dreams and a way of seeing so clearly through the dark.
I know this expression I have seen many times even this young maybe six or seven on the broken stone step of her grandfather’s ranch on the edge of the Rio Grande soaking in cedar smoke adobe dust apples she turns from the lens and she’s already drifting already dreaming already gone to this place she goes a wagon wheel road in the Rio Puerco badlands as deep as a mirage hugging barrels of peaches on a flatbed Ford with sundial shadows and barbed wire wind her sanctuary place she is making a memory as bright as the brass key she will one day hide inside a carved bone box beside the pendulum clock and the rosary beads and turn to me beaming and say look I what I found after all these years I thought it was lost.
Harrison Candelaria Fletcher is the author of Descanso For My Father: Fragments of a Life and Presentimientio: A Life in Dreams. His lyric essays, prose poems, and hybrid works have been widely published in literary journals and anthologies. He teaches in the MFA programs at Colorado State University and Vermont College of Fine Arts.