driving side roads in northern new mexico

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Cottonwoods rim the two-lane, an alameda out of Española,
a forearm extended into the High Road villages.
Seven miles on, the hand opens to Chimayó,
one palmful of adobe farm homes and a sacred site.

“Martinez,” reads the mailbox on a garden wall.
Packed-earth, the painted wall beams blue.
The Oritz house naps behind a fence of roses, of flames on old vines,
and the Sanctuarario curio shop stands banked by a stone wall
painted Sangre de Cristo red.

Just before the turnoff to “The Lourdes of the West”,
where dirt, rather than water, is sacred when blessed,
a corrugated shed crumples in the weeds
between two fallen companions:
A bulb-headed truck that slumps in the gravel,
a peeling cottage growing gray thorns in the sun.

Across the rusted shed doors, a sign
brushed on in white-paint letters
leaves a forwarding address: Moved to Arroyo Seco.
Moved to Dry Ditch.

Deborah Kelly

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