Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

Heading North

By Tina Kessinger

Heading north to Santa Fe,
Sandia rises out of the gentle
slope of winter grass, stranded
blue as a beached whale.

The pavement of I-25 thumps under
her wheels, a bus lumbers, coughs
a blackened spew and she passes,
the arrogance of speed uncoiling,
fastening her more firmly into

To the west, the wound of Rio Rancho
carves itself into the mesa, pebbled
with the litter of thousand-year-old
volcanos. Beyond, Mt. Taylor floats
on the horizon, white-capped, eternal
as a dream.

Her heart flutters and unfurls, settles
on the current between here and there.

Further, the fields of Algodones stretch
down to the river, a silver cloud of
leafless cottonwoods banked on each side.
a roadside honky-tonk hoists a forlorn
Coors sign into the enormous sky.

Downshifting up La Bajada, cylinders
pound into a whine. Toward the Jemez
and far below, an arrow of faded blacktop
shoots across the russet dust of the

She remembers a day many years ago,
in summer, a yellow-haired boy, the
wings of his small brown back. She
remembers the boy and the man in
a blue kayak, stroking the improbable
jewel of water set down into the fiery
red chasm of Cochiti.

In this space, between here and there
things lost gather and come close,
suspended in bright fractions of
clarity, until the road crests and
the fortress of the Sangrias looms
and carries her down to the city.