#29 At the Edges of the Pueblo by Margaret Randall

A great tree falls on a downed power line
and this time the fire is dubbed accidental:
Cerro Grande, Las Conchas,

no resources spared in a month of smoke-clogged sky
and the people of Los Alamos
finally breathe relief,

return to their homes, the threat of that other accident
still raking through memory.
PTSD common as the common cold.

To the southeast at Santa Clara, beyond the Jémez
they drain two irrigation ponds
of water foul with dead fish.

The ditchwater in Hernández is also black and plants grow slowly
thirsty for the nitrogen
cowering in sweet-scented legends.

One burned elk comes into a garden, is about to speak
then falls over and dies.
We wait for wind to sing his funeral dirge.

One list holds the language of anxiety: Oso Complex,
Dry Lakes, South Fork, Las Conchas, Cerro Grande.
Like broken thunder it overtakes

that other list: Cochiti Mesa, Puye, P’opii Khanu.
Turkey Girl is orphaned again
and gathers her charges who starve in secret canyons.

An ash cloud rises in air we cannot breathe.
People say they saved Los Alamos
and let Santa Clara burn.

At the edges of the pueblo all our ancestors weep.


Margaret Randall returned to New Mexico in 1984. The New Mexican space and light are important to her work. Most recent titles include SOMETHING’S WRONG WITH THE CORNFIELDS (Skylight Press), and RUINS (University of New Mexico Press). She is also a photographer, and often combines images and texts.


2 thoughts on “#29 At the Edges of the Pueblo by Margaret Randall

  1. Margaret, thank you for writing this song of lamentation for the people of Santa Clara, for the earth, water, fish, trees, animals, plants…for helping us to grieve.

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