Tuesday, March 24, 2015

GUEST POST FROM AARON ABEYTA

tierra
Aaron Abeyta will present workshops and a
keynote address
at the 2015 Wyoming Writers, Inc. conference
in Cheyenne, June 5 - 7. 

        we sit in the cab of an aging 3/4 ton ford pick-up. the road in front of us is what any country road should be, filled with ruts, washboards and dust. we make our way east toward the sangre de cristos. it is winter. my brother drives, me in the middle, and on the passenger side sits my abuelito; his name is Amos Serafin Abeyta. at this point in my life i am still afraid of him. he has eyes that see through people. abuelito knows only work. six a.m. and it is time to feed the animals. this is how i remember my childhood in moments of what needs to be done at a certain time. the bible says that for everything there is a time. today is our time to load the aging ford with bales of hay, alfalfa and tasole. to the west above the san juans there are clouds gathering, white above the peaks of white. it is the white on white of snow gathering up its breath before it descends into the valley and blows over the brown vegas, the newborn calves, the frozen conejos. it is winter in canon. we, my brother and i, load the truck, seven high, 63 bales, and then we tie it with a come-a-long and a lariat that has lost its loop. Andrew is the expert. he has always been the one my abuelito admires. he throws the bales perfectly. one motion. they always land where they should, how they should.

        i am the listener. i do not know enough. i struggle with the bales, up to the thigh, turn the wrists, regroup my weight underneath myself and heave. for a moment the bale does what it should. it is a half turn side over side the orange twine parallel to the earth, but i have put too much of my right arm into the lunge, the push, the heave of the 80 pound bale. it twists in a way it shouldn't, does not sail high enough, seven high. Andrew, left handed, reaches down and with one hand he grabs it, places it where it should go. i am the listener. abuelito tells me how it should have been done. how it was done in the 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, and how it should still be done in the 1980's. Andrew is the worker. the left handed worker is like the mountains which surround us, he is what my abuelito likes to look at. i am now 25 years old and this is finally o.k. with me.

        Juan Sanchez is and was his name. he is my great grandfather, bisabuelo. i never knew him. mogote flowered beneath his touch; with the urging of his shovel he was able to make anything grow from this rich rocky soil. bisabuelo Juan knew how to irrigate. the hay we have just finished loading is a testament to his irrigating. the fields he plowed alone, irrigated and harvested alone have made it through the decades, and they still grow. i listen. abuelito tells the story as we return with our load of hay. El Juan como puedia regar. by the time we reach canon with our teetering load we too agree that, yes, Juan Sanchez sure could irrigate. it is an art. irrigating is the brushstroke for what becomes the winter painting of two young men loading hay as their abuelito watches. 

        tierra means earth. everything good comes from the earth or to the earth. what travels through the air, snow, rain, sparrows, must eventually come to this field of dormant clover where 63 bales like broken, scattered, surrounded by cows, sheep, and the ever present horses. i listen. abuelito tells us about the beauty of feeding in the same fields where the hay was harvested. the bales are full of seed and our feeding them to these pregnant cows replants the tierra. in time this earth will give birth to a windy spring and the cows will have moved south to the llano with its white sage. the earth is a protective mother. Juan Sanchez knew this.

        poetry means listening. a word well thrown side over side twine parallel to the earth is a beautiful thing. 63 words well stacked, tied down and later scattered over the earth are a poem. the poem is a protective mother. Juan Sanchez can live there with the windy colorado spring, the thick rivers, the ditches, the rocky fertile soil. Amos Serafin Abeyta can become a man i no longer fear. his eyes can be something i never knew them to be. Andrew, my brother, can be proud of his work in the poem.

        the snow approaches quickly from the west. it is a light snow at first. come morning there will be at least a foot. my brother and i will wake during the malignant blue of dawn. that first thin strip of blue which forms over the sangre de cristos, changes hues, then grows beyond anything the night can counter with. we will dress, go out into the cold, and both of us listen to the snow fall.

- excerpt from Aaron's book, Colcha, for which he received an American Book Award and the Colorado Book Award.


Lynn chimes in...

Ah yes... I can see abuelito's eyes, feel the motion of Andrew's toss of the bail, and smell the hay and the coming snow. Well stacked words, indeed.

Aaron Abeyta is the author of four collections of poetry and one novel. His novel, Rise, Do Not Be Afraid, was a finalist for the 2007 Colorado Book Award. He also was awarded a Colorado Council on the Arts Fellowship for poetry. He teaches at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado. All this, and he is mayor of Antonito, Colorado, population 873 and a whistle stop bumper block town for the San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad.

We have the distinct pleasure of welcoming Aaron to Cheyenne this coming June 5 - 7 at the Wyoming Writers, Inc. conference. He will be the keynote speaker at the banquet on Saturday night and present three workshops during the conference:
  1. Poem as Prayer; 
  2. The Outer, The Inner and the True Poem; 
  3. and The Four Homes of Poetry. 
I'm in! How about you? For conference info and a registration form, go to the Wyoming Writers, Inc. website. Whatever you do, don't miss the May 15th early bird registration deadline.

Thanks to Aaron for sharing this bit of writing with us, especially since National Poetry Month is just around the corner...

7 comments:

  1. Amazing. I was already eager to see Aaron at the conference in June. This has made me look forward to it even more.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What lovely writing - so powerful and unique. I wonder about the possibility of either recording or having a transcript of what he will present in June for those who cannot be there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan - I am checking into that. I will post again when I have more definite information.

      Delete
    2. I did check with Wyoming Writers, and recordings or transcripts will not be available. I haven't Googled around for it, but you might find something online by him about writing. Or maybe if you miss him this time, you'll be able to catch him at another workshop or conference.

      Delete
  3. Looking forward to Aaron's presentations!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sorry I'm late coming to this post. It is beautiful and I look forward to Aaron's workshops at WWI. I love the descriptions of the San Luis Valley, a place I love to drive through. And I love eating enchiladas in Antonito, at Dos Hermanas when I pass through that little town.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, you're making my mouth water, talking about enchiladas! I've never had the pleasure of visiting Antonito myself. Looking forward to meeting Aaron in June.

    ReplyDelete

Writing Wyoming blog comments are moderated--yours will be posted shortly. Thanks for joining in the conversation!