Bouncing off the corrugated sheet-metal surface
of the huge sculpture called Barn Dog,
one of many art works around the town,
the morning sun made its way
under his much softer cover and into his lively walk,
spurring him along,
streaks of exhilaration breaking through.
He did not expect the exhilaration to ramp up
at The Five and Dime store, right there on the plaza,
but it did,
for among the packets of green and red chili powder, New
Mexico key rings, tin angels and fresh Frito pies,
there stood, at ease, behind the check-out counter,
a petite, 71 year old woman,
a healthy head of silver-gold hair and tanned face
poking out of a brightly-woven shirt.
He saw at a glance,
a woman as content as she was bedecked,
silver and turquoise jewelry wrapped around her wrists
and neck, each finger ringed. her pink pants
tucked into fringed rawhide boots,
telling him that Vicki Jagger was home.
The rest he learned about her only bespoke her bias,
after southern California,
not minding at all the scenic 42 mile drive every day
to work at the Five and Dime.
And, to top it off, she gave herself the identity
she’d always wanted.
Her former husband didn’t want her to keep his name
and she didn’t want to keep her own,
the name Foster much too prosaic,
and so changed it to her childhood idol, Mick.
Her life, not always ideal, was complete now,
leaving her ready to enjoy her encounters
at the counter of the Five and Dime.
Amidst the chatter and clinking glasses at The Shed,
a popular restaurant just off the plaza,
exhilaration weaved its way to a corner table
where he and his good friends gathered
to celebrate their reunion after several years
John, a concert violist, and Cinda, an artist in her own right,
made music a natural and agreeable topic
to center on, so essential they all knew
to living a full life and a healing one,
a common language to boot,
harking back to the beginning of things.
Having moved here from Rochester, NY seven years ago,
they appreciated New Mexico’s wide-open landscape
and its effect on their own openness
as they move deeper into retirement.
How great to hear that they’re now doing things
at their own pace,
discovering their own beat and new melodies,
John giving concerts in their own home on occasion;
Cinda volunteering time to protect Gaia
from greed’s blindness. and just below the surface,
yet unspoken, the need to create new music
to march to,
against our country’s shadow side.
With a basketball banging off the metal hoop,
the mother and teenage son
playing a little one-on-one,
at the same Patrick Smith Park on Alameda,
passing a football back and forth through the crisp February air.
It was, for him,
another one of those exhilarating times.
watching his daughter and grandson
interact in such a pleasant and playful way.
He would run to catch a pass
and the ball would not reach him.
He would throw a pass and sometimes
she wouldn’t catch it.
It seemed to make no difference.
They would both laugh and carry on
moving around the field
in constant motion until their bodies,
and maybe their hearts,
had had their fill, their breath and pulse
uniting them, arming them
against other times, when there are no
basketball courts and the fields
are too crowded for play.
It would not be obvious to the naked eye
a luxurious community for seniors,
belies its appearance.
its architecture a blend of earthen browns,
a static madness of uniformity in pueblo style,
But its spirit often something else.
At least that’s what he found,
exhilaration streaking in and picking up steam
as they talked,
Joy and he, that evening over dinner
and a drink,
her two dogs, Chloe and Bentley, King Charles spaniels,
one on each side
forming armrests for his ease.
By the time she’d arranged for Lift to pick him up,
they knew it had been a special three hours,,
a gift of free and open sharing,
the beginning of a long friendship
with so much more to learn.
they sang at that Sunday’s gathering.
two days later.
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