LINDA LANCIONE MOYER
Linda Lancione Moyer lives near San Francisco, California, and
writes poetry, essays, and fiction. Her work has appeared in
Atlanta Review, Cimarron Review, CrazyHorse, Jabberwock, The
MacGuffin, Notre Dame Review, Poet Lore and Post Road, among
other literary journals, and will soon appear in Connecticut
Review and Eclipse. Her most recent chapbook is 2% Organic, 32
Short Poems from a West Marin Dairy Barn. This is her first
Saint Vincent in the Afternoon
In an old trading post near Taos Plaza,
the santo gazes down from a high shelf,
right finger raised in blessing or admonition,
left hand held flat, bearing a wooden brick.
"San Vicente, patron of builders and masons,"
says Estefan, a young Taoseño.
He hands the statue down, dark and worn
in its pleated wooden robe, and goes on
about his grandmother, Rowena, who
collected these things, while the saint eyes me.
When my friend spots him on the countertop,
she says, "Oh, he's an eminence, has duende,
take him home or you'll regret it, he's better
than a husband." "Strong silent type,"
we say in sync and laugh. She doesn't know
in this sweet desert that old ache has once again
awakened. Now the saint winks. Wrenched
from some church, years idle, dusty,
maybe he has longings too.
Come home with me, Brother Vinnie,
saint of the workers I come from.
Brighten my heart with your plain face,
with your finger help me trace
the lines of my own work to come.
Sally Always Wondered Whether She Was Adopted
Her mother spoke of evenings
her parents gathered the five kids around the piano,
she on violin, clarinet, oboe, viola, the youngest brother,
Sally's Uncle Bill, on the drums. Crosby,
that crooner, wasn't allowed in the house, but
in the Depression the five of them
pooled their money to buy a radio.
Growing up, Sally marched around that same
piano bench with all her cousins while her grandmother--
come out in her apron from stirring the giblet gravy--
beat out oompity-oompty on the piano,
but she didn't fit in. The other kids fooled around but she
knew what a march was, feet stomping in Mary Janes,
loose socks sliding down as Uncle Jim
flashed the camera. The cousins
peeled off one by one, the West Point
cousin, the big-breasts-too-early cousin,
the had-to-get-married cousin,
the mental hospital cousin. Now
her mother's violin lies in a cedar chest in Sally's spare room:
open the black pigskin case to a flood of resin and sweet wood,
the frayed bow, the makeshift bridge. Press your ear
to the floating notes of a Bach concerto that follows you everywhere
who cares how lonely you were when you first heard it,
at forty, and not from this instrument but a tape in the car
under the dripping trees in Mendocino
as night fell and you were about to meet
the new lover who would take you to your real home,
you thought, maybe forever, in a country of mouths.
All year the sober male sage plant--chamiso--
dresses in green-tinged gray, but in fall
lady chamisa, female sage, blooms full on the mesa,
color of Mexican saffron after it stains the rice.
Indians call strong rain male: flamboyant thunder,
a sky bolt, a downpour that rattles the stovepipe.
A light, warm rain is what even Sara Gustavez,
forecasting out of Santa Fe, calls "female rain."
It's almost October, grasshoppers no longer leap
like fleas from a rug in a house where the cat's vanished,
most have buried their eggs and died. Shadows
are longer, tops of the giant cottonwoods stretch
to gild the fat clouds. In the hills near Ghost Ranch
where a white mosque overlooks the valley of Tres Piedras,
the caretaker--a wiry man in his sixties, Russian accent--
gargles in the fountain before his noon prayers.
End of an Age
I saw you, Bear, running across the road
at Mesa Verde, black, handsome,
hell-bent for leather, while everywhere
shops sell your image--pendants or fetishes,
trinkets to tame the real, which so scares us.
Indians say when the age ends, bears
will appear in the pueblo, a sign, then, soon,
comes our time to join the colony-rich,
Meanwhile, stocks slide, banks fail,
men in power daily change their stories,
while the dowager's ghost
slams a door in the mansion,
scattering her hoard of gold coins.
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