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Run River Run

A new anthology celebrates the life, near-death & hopes for revival of the Santa Fe River

February 16, 2011, 1:00 am

Cholla cactus on high banks above the Santa Fe River. Photograph by EC Ryan.

Blue Winding, Blue Way

By Valerie Martinez

Valerie Martínez is a poet, translator, teacher, playwright/librettist, and collaborative artist. Her books include World to World, A Flock of Scarlet Doves, and Each and Her. She is Executive Director of Littleglobe, Inc., an artist-run non-profit that collaborates with communities on art and community dialogue projects. Valerie served as Poet Laureate for the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico from 2008 – 2010.

I tell you—City, City, City—a story you told me—brown eyes, green eyes, black—in the days of snow drifts, mini-skirts, nothing beyond Richard’s Ave. The center of earth was a patch of land with our house, the backyard, arroyo humming over the reddish concrete wall, and one immortal turtle. The neighbor’s immense ham radio antenna and Mr. Chang hunched to static and metal under the morning buzz of Osage Ave. We went to school in pick-ups and dented sedans, or workmen showed up to build vigas in the big room that swelled our home, Alfonso saying, Linda, get me that bucket and donde está tu mama? Me saying, at the grocery store buying tubs of ice cream, you know, those big ones? Get me, ice cream, you know took to the air over the rooftops to Frenchy’s Field. We weren’t supposed to go there—he’ll shoot, you know—and I imagined the old man hunched somewhere near the water, listening. In those days the Santa Fe River ran and sang. It’s true? you ask, staring at the empty bed, dust rising at the dead end of Avenida Cristobal Colón. There was water? Now, we dream of blue winding, blue way along West Alameda—barbershop, co-op, health clinic. The clog and cough of St. Francis Drive. Back then there were cars and wanderers and children just like now—towheads, dark braids, dirty cuffs—rolled up with all of us on the days of markets and parades along San Francisco and Palace Ave. Hmmm went the setting sun and you really could get fry bread for a quarter after walking down Washington Street from Fort Marcy after Zozobra burned. Now I drive downtown where the acequia crosses Closson and Maynard, stutters along Water St. and sings the parallels of East Alameda and Canyon Road. Like a whisper, it lays itself down between Camino del Monte Sol and Camino Cabra, two streets with the river in-between—one with her skirt trailing southwest to the Paseo Real, the other reaching her fingernail moons to the foothills. And the river itself, dream of p’oe tsawa, flushed from the red burn of the Sangres, running headlong downhill into this city of ours, then and now, with her canciónes encantadas—with her blue, with her brown mouth open.

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