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The Language of a Golondrina Heritage BY PAT LITTLEDOG EAGLE-VISIONED/ FEATHERED ADOBES By Ricardo Sanchez Cinco Puntos Press; THIS IS THE way I imagine Ricardo Sanchez as he wrote this particular collection of poems: He is sitting at his writing desk one day at Barrioquarters fingering his turquoise and gazing into desert honeysuckle at the window, thinking weird thoughts while Teresa and kids hustle in the background, when the telephone rings at his elbow and he answers it a poet needed in New Mexico to find Art. He leaps into action. “Teresa!” he calls. “My ballpoint!” She buckles it on him. “My notepad. My sunglasses. My mota.”He heads out West, penetrates the mountain ranges, eyes-a-glint for Art wherever he may find it. But first to Belen, town of his old family before the father came to the city and set up Ricardo in this poor but honest border business of word-making, his disinheritance. He only makes a brief appearance with the relatives, however, feeling somewhat out of it with his city swagger, merged as he is “with other ways of seeing/hearing…” “sentiments hacia Belen” Hits Albuquerque, Taos, finally Santa Fe, heads for La Fonda, stops in the lobby, demands of the walls, “Where is Art Here?” Whips out the notepad. Sits down at the bar and throws a few words out. For several days he will wander this town, searching with shaded hand upon his brow, wandering from cafe to restaurant to cafe to bar to bar to bar, watching the sidewalk show of vendors and the parade of touristy buttocks, beyond the surface of zoot-suiting and onward into native-garbing, adoberos, jacaleros, and little old raza people cleaning acequias for your cameras, Pat LittleDog is a peripatetic poet, novelist, and journalist, now living in Austin. Her book of short stories, At Play in a Field of Men, was published by Atlantic Monthly Press. we spic-n-spanishize reality for you… “came to revisit” But as he walks the streets, visions of old trails come upon him, and the beauty of the mestizas shimmers before his eyes with the truth of the interracial love and violence that raged through the land to make them adornada por lo encantable y paradojico de esta tierra manita “en lo in” The past shades and films the faces of these people around him like a mirage, so that he gets too dizzy from watching them in the October play of desert heat and chill, and runs back to La Fonda for refreshment. Then when his wrist gets steady again he gets out the pen, writes across the tablecloth chili-con-kayosh and pop corn snackeroo-bontanitas, country-western balladeer wails out in new englander nasality & zee waitress wears put-on nativeness facade upon her worchester, massachusetts, demeanor “assemblages” He sits back in the booth. Maybe he has a thought or two about old Prufrock listening to the Michaelangelo talk while he listens to women chatter of Spanish character and a poor version of Freddie Fender. He looks down at the little note he wrote about art and something snaps. He can’t remember, under the weight of the recent sun and now the adobe brassknockers before him on the nightclub stage, the questions he was supposed to ask of all this Art. He proceeds to get happily drunk and insults everyone: they pretend as well here as we do in Texas, Alabama, Alaska, Europe, or in Tenochtitlan, the spics here are just as greasy as anywhere else, the injuns just as drunken, the honkies just as materialistic and dehumanized, and the niggers just as coon ass happy and jigga-booed, and the japs & slants & chinks are too few to caricature “assemblages” But the morning comes too soon, and he still has a job. So the streets pull him out again, where he discovers a sidewalk cafe and soon finds himself trying to explain to his companero, Orlando Romero, the difference between Orlandito children of New Mexico, who are given eagle-visioned/feathered adobes when they are born, and Ricardito children of Pachucoville, who get the switchblades, hot rods, and hustling mentality. From the cafe they go to the rooms of partying academia folk, then drop suddenly into the contrasting hell-hole of a penitentiary stained with blood and fire. But without losing composure, he walks through the steel walls of his own past, visits the life-sentencer, watches the women prisoners cry, then back, revelatory, ‘sipping trash-whiskey-madness once more at the La Fonda lounge. The search for Art has become a search for himself. His head is swimming from too much comparison of soul-plight, and so when he can, he lies back in the sun a la vez que los deseos brotan hacia canderas ondulantes, y las quejas toman vacacion mientras el poeta disfruta otro momento vital “el sol” He begins to name all the body parts of women like a litany, and enters a world created by mingling the dreams of lonely men. Whatever happened to his search for his aunt with the Truth written in her face and his ole daddy, the Indian who doesn’t want to search for stories where no one lives anymore, a past riddled with bulletholes, now lo hispanico me estruja lo mestizo me acomoda 18 SEPTEMBER 28, 1990