Three years since your last letter.
I’d like word about your recent oils.
Hoping they’re displayed at some
pricey Santa Fe gallery, I go online,
find an obituary. You were 85.
Died? In Kentucky?
Kate, I’m here to see
what you’ve been painting.
That Spanish elder whose glow
filled her restaurant in Bernalillo
where 15 years ago my husband and I
stopped and fell in love with your show…
She wouldn’t advertise on the web.
And yes, I remember she passed away.
You’re the one who said so.
…born in Las Cruces, grew up there.
Home Economics, marriage, five kids,
Nevada then back to New Mexico.
Name of the child who preceded you
in death. Survived by.
She was an artist
and did many oil paintings.
End of subject. Family photos.
The first piece we bought remains my favorite.
Sky about to clear, mountains
sharp, puddles bright and fresh. Green things
greening up through brown.
An old flat-roofed adobe structure, long, low.
You said it would have been used
as a church. A priest would have visited
as time and weather allowed.
Such buildings had a liquid, Spanish name
What was it, now. Don’t know.
Oil Portrait with Added Rust
Hinge, flattened. Screwed down at both ends.
Strips cut from a metal sheet. Nailed.
Left out in weather.
Neither nose nor mouth.
Whatever it took. To block this woman’s breath.
To lock in her words. Her song.
Whatever it takes
to keep her gentle ways (eyes
deep, calm, fierce as a sea
in its after-storm hour) from
spreading throughout the kingdom.