There is a place where dogs lay about in the warmth
of November sun. Where a stream catches shards of light
before reflecting them back up into the cottonwoods.
A place where dwellings quietly crumble into the dust of centuries.
Where wooden crosses grow in their Spanish garden.
Where the forbidden welcomes only those who understand.
Where piñon smoke wafts and curls its way to join
white clouds in a brilliant blue sky. Where the old ones
peer out of soot-darkened corners, their gnarled hands grasping turquoise
like old cedar trees holding together piles of rocks.
There is a place where countless footsteps catch countless more.
Where silent hawks circle high above; their spirals pulling spirit into the sky.
Death is always nearby here. I come here to die, as I have before.
To shed the unnecessary things, to waste away until
the dust swirls by to gather up the pieces of old skin I’ve left behind.
There is great sadness, as alcohol leaves strikingly handsome
shells of bodies propped against the wall outside the Taos Inn,
their spirits caught somewhere between the neon and starry black sky.
There is unspeakable joy as the very young dance with the Earth.
And laughter as cars wait for free range steers crossing dusty roads.
There are green chilies, blue corn posole, and Silver Coin margaritas.
Michael’s Kitchen, and Charlotte’s fetishes at Bryan’s Gallery.
Cottonwoods I count on being there as I counted on Ruby
the bookstore cat being there until she went away to the sky.
Taos writers, painters, artists—my heart, my soul, New Mexico.
Dee Stribling is a writer of poems and prose currently living in Hillsborough, N.C. For many years she has spent as much time in New Mexico as possible. She is currently working on two poetry chapbooks, a memoir, and a documentary.