A prose poem by Valerie Martínez
Who hasn’t driven north, up and over La Bajada Hill in dark December, to see the lights of Santa Fe unfurl: colcha, snowflake, electric mosaic? And who hasn’t walked the evening streets just to trace the silhouettes of walkways, houses and hotels, counting farolitos? Hasn’t driven past the Christmas tree lot on Rodeo Road just to get a whiff of fir, pine and spruce through the dashboard heating ducts? Hasn’t heard the downtown sound of cathedral bells muffled in snow, wafting like wafers onto wrought iron and woolen elbows? Has not looked up from St. Michael’s Drive to the Sangres to search for the snow-covered horse’s head? Hasn’t found a kitchen off San Ildefonso Road just to get out of the cold, down a half-dozen biscochitos, or knead the dough for sufganiyot? Hasn’t sipped a free cup of homemade cocoa on Christmas Eve, a gift from residents who live along Canyon Road? Has not walked the ice-milked sidewalks of Water Street and found themselves flat on their back then pulled up by some stranger saying, “Whoa–you went down like a ton of adobe bricks!” And who hasn’t left town for the heart-bending dances at Santo Domingo then driven back to mark the little pines on the I-25 median, tinseled by some group of anonymous daredevils? Has not seen a kiva fireplace adorned with advent calendar, Menorah, bear fetish and ceramic Santa Claus? Hasn’t feasted on turkey with piñon and green-chile stuffing, red-chile mashed potatoes, tortillas on the side? And who hasn’t followed their grandmother lugging a wooden crèche from house to house during las posadas, the holy family looking for a place to stay, setting it down on someone’s porch then driving away? And the dry colds so cold you want to drench them, and the stars so close you want to lick them? He who hasn’t; she who has not, they who never have but are looking for a place to stay on some bone-cold Santa Fe night—follow me; this is the place; this way is the way.
Valerie Martínez is a poet, educator, playwright and librettist. She was the Poet Laureate of Santa Fe for 2008-2010. She is currently executive director and a core artist with the interdisciplinary art collaborative Littleglobe.