“She is like Julia in every way.” Excerpt from The Book of Archives and Other Stories from the Mora Valley, New Mexicoby
A. Gabriel Melendez
OPENING TO A PREVIOUS LIFE
¿Qué somos en esta vida? Just what are we in this life? Un costal lleno de huesos, A sack full of bones. Y una cosa corrompida, And rotten stuffing. ¡Ay, ay, cuán amarga es la muerte Oh how bitter is death Y qué dulce fue la vida! And oh how sweet was life! —Miguel Casías, San Juan, New Mexico, July 7, 1989
Every day in Mora two or three new graves were dug to accommodate the victims of the previous day’s scourge. So many people had died in such a short time that in some precincts the people tired of opening new graves and they began to bury the dead one on top of the other. Enriqueta Vásquez fell sick with the illness on a cold January day. She had buried her husband and seen her father-in-law, an older sister, two uncles, an aunt, and three of her cousins buried in the span of the month and a half that the influenza had raged in the mountain valley. Enriqueta was Julia Pacheco de Steiner’s granddaughter, and people often talked about the striking resemblance she bore to her grandmother. Enriqueta was a young bride about whom people said, “She is like Julia in every way.” Later, when people tried to make sense of her death, they said that the reason Enriqueta had fallen so quickly was because she had been weakened by the birth of her second daughter. “She had not yet rested the forty days a new mother should before she was out burying her kin,” they said. Enriqueta’s second daughter was born in the first days of the influenza, and her birth brought hope and joy. Cándida had the blue eyes of her German great-grandfather and the soft dark skin of her mestiza great-grandmother. Enriqueta cradled the child in her arms and nursed her with the sweet milk of her breast in the amber light of the oil lamps that lit the rooms of her home. One Saturday afternoon, Enriqueta felt soreness in her shoulders and she retired to her bedroom even before the sun had gone down. She laid Cándida beside her in the bed and picked up her missal and prayed the Divine Praises in preparation for hearing Mass the next morning. She could not keep her eyes open and left off reading at the epistle for the first Sunday after Epiphany at the verses “Be patient in turbulence and persevering in prayer.” She slept until Cándida’s cries woke her. So deep was her sleep that at first she thought she had only napped, but her breasts were heavy with the night’s milk and she thought, “I must nurse Cándida.” At midmorning, Enriqueta began to shiver with chills and she complained of drafts through the house. Corina Lucero, the médica that attended her, did not let her up from bed, and Enriqueta slept soundly for several more hours. She awoke drenched in a copious sweat that had formed an outline of her delicate body on the sheets of her bed. On Sunday afternoon, Cándida began to show the first signs of having contracted her mother’s illness, and Corina Lucero had her crib moved to an adjoining room where she could better watch over the child. Cándida’s eyes had lost their natural brilliance and had dulled to the color of gray river rock. She cried and dozed in fits and spurts. The silver sliver of a waning moon hung over La Jicarita, and Cándida’s shrill cries threatened to rend the ice-blue sky of that January evening. At a quarter to seven on the morning of the second day, Enriqueta spoke, but her words confounded those around her. She looked at Corina and said, “Are you the devil?” and pointing at the darkened corners of the room, she continued, “And are they your consorts?” She rubbed her fist against her left eye and shouted, “This horrid smoke, it burns my eyes! Open the dampers on the stoves!” Then she fell into a deep coma and did not regain consciousness. The fever continued to consume mother and daughter, but try as Corina might, nothing she did quelled its progress. Neither the sponge baths, nor the paper-thin slices of potatoes to cool the forehead, nor the herb tea, nor the prayers to San Ramón broke the fever’s grip. At nine o’clock on Tuesday morning, Enriqueta’s breathing sounded like sand running through a sieve. Corina strained to hear a heartbeat. It was distant, like thunder in a snowstorm. The old woman advised the family: “Call the padre, Enriqueta is at the very edge of this life.” The Dutch priest, Padre Munnecom, was presiding over a funeral at Chacón in the upper valley and did not arrive till midafternoon. After giving Enriqueta the last rites, he said, “She is dead. Bury her quickly.” Before leaving, he inquired about the child’s health. Corina looked down at the floor and answered, “Gravely ill, she is very weak, Padre.” A delegation of penitentes came to bury Enriqueta. After praying over her, those hermanos who had known her grandmother as a young woman asked each other, “How can it be that one person can be reborn into life as another?” They did as the family asked and buried Enriqueta next to her grandmother, Julia Pacheco de Steiner. They lowered the simple wooden casket into the darkness of a fresh grave at the upper campo santo on the road to the village of El Oro. Enriqueta’s sister, Lourdes Paiz, her eyes swollen and red from days of mourning, had reached her wit’s end with worry and fatigue. That evening as the family gathered to console themselves and fortify their weary bodies with sweet breads and strong coffee, Lourdes lost her composure when the old woman Corina said in resignation, “It must be God’s will.” “Shut up, you old witch,” cried Lourdes, “if we didn’t have to depend on your foolish remedies and your useless hand-wringing, Enriqueta would be alive now! Look at the Americans,” she said, “their doctors keep them from such misery.” ’Mana Corina responded, “Child, the American doctors have their understanding of things and I have mine. But it seems that compassion is not a part of their science of things. Have you ever seen an Americano doctor cross the threshold of one of our homes? It is what we have, mi hija, foolish remedies, cure patches, and tea baths like those that cooled your old man Romaldo’s body when his skin peeled back from his flesh after the boiler exploded at Don Tito’s sawmill in Chacón.” When Lourdes was calm again, she said, “Forgive me, Corina. It’s just that these blows that life has dealt us have been so fierce. I did not mean to blame you. You have done what you could. When Cándida’s fever breaks, send her to me.” Lourdes continued, “I will raise her and she will not want for anything nor will she know what it is to be an orphan.” Cándida’s crying subsided, drifting into quiet sobs, then stopped altogether, but the fever would not break. Like her mother, she fell into a coma and her life grew fainter and fainter as the hours of the night pushed toward the new day. At seven the next morning, her tiny body wrenched in violent spasms and she coughed up a wad of mucus and coagulated blood. An hour later she was cold and her arms stiffened like the limbs of a doll. Her eyes were open, but she was dead. Cándida was dressed in a white gown. Corina placed a pair of brown shoes on her feet and on her head an ornate crown fashioned from an old piece of tin. Then she placed a branch of piñón wrapped with faded crepe paper and adorned with gourds for a staff at the child’s side. She was presented to her mourning family as an angelita, a little angel, because she had died without knowing either the stain of evil or the false joy of this world. All during Mass and during her Rosary, the villagers imagined Cándida’s soul winging its way to heaven along the shafts of sunlight that pierced the rolling winter clouds above them. ’Mana Cortina refused to follow the cortege to the cemetery and she turned back at the first stop. “This sickness be damned,” she cried as she touched Cándida, lying in the black cardboard casket, one last time. “Little messenger,” she whispered, “tell Almighty God in his Glory that his people suffer much upon this earth. Tell him, my child, in case He has forgotten us.” Lourdes Paiz asked that as a proper and fitting thing the infant Cándida be interred with her mother. Again the penitente brothers opened the grave they had closed only a day earlier. The wet earth sliced open like clay on a potter’s wheel until their shovels sounded hollow drumbeats upon Enriqueta’s pine coffin. The men heaved, grasping at the edges to pry back the coffin’s lid and deposit the infant daughter. In the dark pit they drew back the white shroud, their lanterns swinging high over Enriqueta’s face until they could see it clearly. “Ay, Dios,” came up the gasps of the men who were waist deep in the shallow grave. Enriqueta’s eyes were open and her face was contorted, her mouth agape as though locked in a silent scream. Her hands were not clasped upon her chest in peaceful repose, but were tangled in the long strands of Enriqueta’s raven black hair. Her fists were full of the tufts of hair she had torn from her head. “Ay, Dios mío,” those at the graveside shouted in horror as they stepped back, “Enriqueta was buried alive!”
Winter Burial at Los Hueros, 2014 John Warm Day Coming http://www.jonathanwarmday.com/
POR LA RENDIJA DE UNA VIDA PREVIA ¿Qué somos en esta vida? Un costal lleno de huesos, Y una cosa corrompida,
¡Ay, ay, cuán amarga es la muerte Y qué dulce fue la vida!
—Miguel Casías, San Juan, Nuevo México, 7 de julio de 1989
Cada día en Mora se sacaban dos o tres sepulcros más para acomodar las víctimas de la plaga del día antes. Tanta gente había muerto en tan poco tiempo que en algunos precintos los vivos se cansaron de abrir nuevos sepulcros y comenzaron a enterrar a los difuntos unos sobre otros. Enriqueta Vásquez se puso mala en un día frío de enero. Ella había enterrado a su esposo y había visto morir a su suegro, una hermana mayor, dos tíos, una tía y tres de sus primos hermanos en lo que iba del mes en el que la influenza había arrasado con los pueblerinos del valle. Enriqueta era la nieta de Julia Pacheco de Steiner, y la gente solía comentar el parecido asombroso que guardaba con su abuela. De Enriqueta, recién casada, decían, “Es la dijunta Julia en todo y por todo”. Más tarde cuando la gente se puso a averiguar la causa de su muerte, se aseguraba que se había enfermado tan repentinamente por la débil condición en que se hallaba tras el parto de su segunda hija: “No había descansado los cuarenta días del parto cuando ya andaba enterrando a sus parientes”. La segunda niña de Enriqueta había nacido en los primeros días de la influenza, y su llegada trajo esperanza y júbilo. Cándida tenía los ojos azules de su bisabuelo alemán y la tez blanda y morena de su bisabuela mestiza. A las tres semanas de nacida, Enriqueta la apechaba en brazos y la amamantaba con la dulce leche de su seno en la pálida luz de las lámparas de aceite que alumbraban las salas de la casa. Un sábado por la tarde, Enriqueta sintió un dolor en los hombros y se retiró a su cuarto a descansar antes de que el sol de aquella tarde cayera. Acostó a Cándida a su lado en el lecho de su cama y agarró su libro de oraciones y rezó las Divinas Alabanzas para prepararse para asistir a la Misa del día siguiente. No pudo resistir el sueño y dejó de leer la epístola del primer domingo después de la Epifanía a lo alto de los versos, “Tened paciencia en la turbulencia y preservad en la oración”. Durmió hasta que los lloriqueos de la niña la despertaron al alba. Tan rendida estaba al sueño que quiso creer que sólo había dormitado, pero sus pechos llenos con la leche de la noche la desmintieron. Pensó, “Tengo que amamantar a Cándida”. Unas horas después, Enriqueta sintió escalofríos y se quejó de las corrientes de aire que atravesaban la casa. Corina Lucero, la médica que la atendía, no quiso que se levantara para salir a Misa, y Enriqueta se volvió a acostar y durmió unas horas más. Cuando despertó, estaba empapada en un copioso sudor que había dejado perfilado su delicado cuerpo en las sábanas de su camalta. El domingo por la tarde, Cándida comenzó a dar indicios de que se había contagiado de la enfermedad de la mamá. Corina Lucero hizo que trasladaran la cuna de la niña a su cuarto para poder mejor ver de ella. Los ojos de Cándida perdieron su fulgor natural y se volvieron gris como las piedras boludas en el lecho del río. Cándida comenzó a llorar y a dar sobresaltos y estallidos. La astilla de una luna menguante colgaba sobre la cumbre de la Jicarita, y los chillidos de la niña amenazaban con rasgar la bóveda helada del cielo azul de aquella tarde de enero. A las siete menos cuarto de la mañana, Enriqueta habló, pero sus palabras trastornaron el pensamiento de los que la rodeaban. Miró a ’mana Corina y dijo, “¿Eres el diablo?”, y señalando con el dedo las sombras en las esquinas del cuarto, siguió maldiciendo, “Y aquellas son tus consortes?”. Se alisó el ojo izquierdo con su mano derecha y gritó, “¡Ay, qué feo humo! ¡Me arden los ojos! ¡Abran los apagadores de los fogones!”. Después se desmayó y no volvió en sí de nuevo. La calentura seguía consumiendo tanto a la madre como a la hija, y por más que Corina Lucero lo intentara, no pudo abatir su progreso. Ni los remojos, ni las rabanadas de papas que colocó en la frente de Julia, ni el té de estafiate, ni las oraciones a San Ramón pudieron contra aquella fiebre. A las nueve de la mañana el martes, el aliento raspaba como arena que cae por un cedazo. Corina quiso pulsar el latir de su corazón, pero se oía distante como truenos apagados por el peso de una gran nevada. La médica les dijo a los familiares, “Llamen al padre, Enriqueta vacila entre la vida y la muerte”. El párroco holandés, el Padre Munnecom, asistía a un funeral en Chacón, en el valle de arriba, y no llegó hasta después de mediodía. Después de darle los últimos auxilios a Enriqueta, les dijo a los presentes, “Está muerta. Entiérrenla”. Antes de irse preguntó por la niña. ’Mana Corina no alzaba la mirada del piso y respondió, “Malita, grave. Ella tampoco da de sí, Padre”. Una comisión de la hermandad de penitentes se encargó de abrir la sepultura de Enriqueta. Después de rezarle la encomendación del alma, aquellos que habían conocido a la abuela de Enriqueta en su mocedad se preguntaron unos a otros, “¿Cómo puede ser que una persona renazca en otra?”. Hicieron lo que la familia les había pedido y enterraron a Enri- queta a un lado de su abuela. Bajaron el ataúd de madera con cuidado, depositándolo en una sepultura recién cavada en el camposanto de arriba en el camino que sube al pueblo de El Oro. Lourdes Paiz, la hermana de Enriqueta, sus ojos hinchados y rojizos tras días enteras de congojas y duelo, estaba loca del dolor. Aquella tarde cuando se reunió la familia para conformarse y for- talecer sus cuerpos con tazas de espeso café y empanadas dulces, Lourdes perdió su compostura cuando oyó a ’mana Corina decir con resignación, “Será la voluntad de Dios”. “Se me calla, vieja bruja”, le gritó Lourdes Paiz, “si no tuviéramos que depender en tus inútiles remedios y el esdrujar de tus manos, Enriqueta estuviera buena y sana ’hora mismo.” “¿Que no ve a los americanos”, dijo, “sus dotores los apartan de esta miseria?”. ’Mana Corina le respondió, “Mira, hija, los americanos tienen su cono- cimiento y yo tengo el mío. Pero parece que tendremos que esperar hasta que la compasión entre en su ciencia de las cosas. ¿A caso, has visto que pase un dotor americano por el umbral de una de nuestras casas? Esto es lo que tenemos, mi hija, remedios, parches y baños de té como los que entibiaron el cuerpo de tu viejo, Romaldo, cuando se le despellejaba la piel de la carne cuando explotó la vaporizador de la máquina de rajar de don Tito en Chacón”. Cuando Lourdes se repuso, le dijo, “Discúlpame, Corina. Pero es que estos golpes han sido tan brutales. No quise echarte la culpar. Sé que has hecho lo posible. Cuando se le pase la calentura a Cándida, mándamela a casa. Yo tendré cargo de que no le falte nada y la criaré y no sabrá lo que es ser huérfana”. Los lloriqueos de Cándida se fueron apagando y se tornaron en pucheros, pero no se le quitaba la calentura. Igual que su madre, se desmayó y su vida se hizo cada vez más tenue a medida que las horas de la noche avanzaban hacia el nuevo día. A las siete de la mañana, su pequeño cuerpo se acalambró y la niña vomitó una bola viscosa de sangre coagulada. Una hora más tarde su cuerpo estaba frío y sus bracitos se entumecieron como los de una muñeca. Sus ojos siguieron abiertos, pero estaba muerta. A Cándida se le vistió en una bata blanca. ’Mana Corina le calzó los pies con unos zapatitos marrones y le colocó una corona hecha de un pedazo de estaño en la cabeza. Luego puso a un lado de la niña la rama de un árbol de piñón envuelta en papel barato y adornada de guajes amarillos para que le sirviera de bastón. Se le presentó a la familia como una angelita porque había muerto sin conocer la mancha de maldad, ni había entrado en el retozo falso de este mundo. Durante la Misa y durante el Rosario, los aldeanos se imaginaban que el alma de Cándida volaba al cielo, subiendo por los rayos de luz que perforaban las nubes revueltas que pasaban por encima. ’Mana Corina no quiso acompañar el cortejo al camposanto y se volvió en el primer descanso. “Malahaya esta enfermedá”, sollozaba al tocar por vez última el diminutivo cuerpo de Cándida que yacía en un ataúd hecho de cartón negro. “Linda angelita, mandataria nuestra”, dijo, “dile a mi Tata Dios que en su reino ’stá, dile que su gente sufre demasiadas penas sobre la tierra. Díselo, niña, por si se ha olvidado de nosotros” Lourdes Paiz pidió que como justo y propio se enterrara a la niña Cándida con su madre en la misma sepultura. Otra vez los hermanos penitentes abrieron el sepulcro que acababan de cerrar la tarde antes. La tierra húmeda se rebanaba como barro en las manos del alfarero hasta que sus palas vinieron a sonar huecos golpecitos sobre el cajón de pino abeto de Enriqueta. Los hombres se esforzaban asiéndose de las orillas para levantar la tapadera y para depositar a la hija infanta. Corrieron a un lado el sudario blanco, columpiando sus faroles en alto sobre la fosa oscura hasta que el rostro de Enriqueta se dejó ver por completo. “Ay, Dios mío”, se oyeron los quejidos de los hombres que estaban parados a media rodilla en el pozo. Los ojos de Enriqueta estaban abiertos y su cara estaba torcida, su boca estaba abierta, asida en un alarido sigiloso. Las manos de la difunta no yacían sobre su pecho en actitud de paz y reposo, sino que estaban enmarañados en los bucles de su lindo y negro cabello. Tenía los puños llenos de los mechones de pelo que se había arrancado de la cabeza. “¡Ay, Dios mío”, dijeron los que rodeaban la fosa, al tambolearse hacia atrás, “Enriqueta fue enterrada viva!”.
San Juan Bautista de Los Hueros Chapel in Mora County
Sit and Listen a review by Scott Duncan-Fernandez
The last few years have been good for books on the Northern New Mexican region. In 2015 out came Farolito, a poetry chapbook on elder abuse set in Mora by Karen S. Cordova. Last year, 2017, came the wonderful book about penitentes, El Hermano by Carmen Baca (featured on Somos en escrito along with her latest book set similarly,Las Mujeres Misteriosas) and The Book of Archives by Gabriel Melendez, a finalist for the International Latino Award.
The Book of Archives is a novella of vignettes based around oral history of the hispano people of Mora, New Mexico. It is a dual language book, the novella first in English, then in Spanish, New Mexican Spanish that is, known for retaining some archaic usages.
Dr. Melendez has already written books on persevering New Mexican literature and culture—check out his book The Writings of Eusebio Chacón, a literary figure part of a literary renaissance in Las Vegas, New Mexico in the 1880s, something almost lost to history.
The Book of Archives takes on quite a lot—to create a book of oral tales and histories of Mora county metaphorically through the fictional book of archives, even more metaphorically destroyed by the US bombardment of Mora for its part in the Taos Revolt. What was that, the Taos Revolt? You mean the US bombed the town of Mora and burned all its ranches? If you ask these questions, it exemplifies one of the needs for a book such as The Book of Archives. Quickly, as the motif of the book of archives relates, the Taos revolt arose from New Mexicans interested in resisting the US invasion as, deceived by a paid off Mexican governor, they found themselves already occupied and offered no resistance. The likes of Kit Carson marched on to California, where he burned native villages and Californio ranches. Pueblos and hispanos attacked Americans in the New Mexican colony and then the soldiers upon their return. The US army took revenge and bombed Mora and burned everyone’s house and ranch. And here we get to the fictional book of archives. The book which recorded our history and tales was hit by an American cannonball, sending pages to the wind. The Book of Archives attempts to recreate a record of the things the US has decimated—our history, our memory, our stories.
My grandfather’s side, Fernandezes, as well as Pachecos and Arguellos, are from Mora. Many of the families talked about in The Book of Archives would be my distant and not too distant relatives. Some of the tales are familiar and some are rather pan-hispano, Juan Tonto or Stupid John for pochos such as myself. Mora is a place of high altitude, around 7,000 feet, enough for a coastal person like myself (cowabunga) to draw an extra breath while walking the family ranch. I remember going to Mora for family reunions and visits since 1977 (I can remember being quite young). Sparsely populated, many ranches and sheep, which have now given way to those Alpaca-monsters. The Mora accent is singsong. I joke it sounds like singsong Mexican with movie Apache. Men of my grandfather’s generation spoke rather curt, but when I think of Mora I think of some of the kindest people who love jokes and throwing parties (hey, I’ve always been a visiting relative, your mileage may vary). And you always have to eat. While Mora is an out of the way place, it and its inhabitants have figured in Chicano literature. Fray Chavez, often called the godfather of Chicano literature, grew up in Mora and became an important historian and genealogist of New Mexico. Some of his stories display some of the not so great aspects of the hispano character, but more on that later, as it comes up wonderfully in The Book of Archives. Mora is a beautiful place. It’s full of traditional houses and churches, wooded mountains, grassy hills and antelope, as well. The Book of Archives gives a good sense of place and the earliest histories of Mora being a stopover place and how native people and hispanos in the early 1800s finally made something more permanent there. Comancheros, villains in such books as Lonesome Dove, have never been more than impoverished New Mexicans who sought out Comanches to trade for their buffalo hides, booty from their raids, and unfortunately captives--slaves. Though out of the way, trade routes to New Mexico have always been important and fictionalized (take a look at the bandoliered Jawas as they trade robot-captives on la frontera of Tatooine).
Mora is still a rural place, though I recall in the 1970s, you could only see the ranch house and the original shack my great great grandfather built on Rancho Fernandez. Now that house burned down and they built a new one for my great aunt Maclovia before she passed away along with another house on the ranch and several neighbors. Rural existence is tough, you can’t pay your land tax in sheep, so many people go far to look for work. There are many land issues and displacements going on today as gringos having finally considered the land there valuable enough to buy up and have put the community described in The Book of Archives at risk of dissolution.
Melendez seems to have gleaned many documents and spoken to many people for the history of Mora. Perforce many Chicano books are postmodern (thanks to Dr. Melendez for spelling it out), Old Testament-like mixes of legends, myths, letters and histories.
The Book of Archives is even more so as it includes notes from tax documents, land titles, military reports, as well as the aforementioned myths and histories, including those within recent memory of family history (the adopted Quintana who was raised by Carmen and Mama Clarita comes to mind).
Many pieces contain some sadness, some can be even terrible—hispanos of the area survived the US invasion, hunger, influenza and poverty. While The Books of Archivesis mostly realistic, like Cien años de soledad, what is fantastic moves further away as the stories approach the modern era, save for some potential Santo Niño sightings and speaking on the Niño de Atocha, and the Blue Nun towards the end. Witches become spoken of less as everyone thinks they must have left the valley until on old man gets accused in the newspaper of hecheria.
Several story lines and characters repeat, though most stories are not too connected, but all are set in the town of Mora, the area, and the mountain of Jicarita. The beautiful Maria appears in several tales, along with the sad tale of her granddaughter. Old Man Vilmas and the Black Poet Garcia, two New Mexican folk tale figures, who seem to be preternaturally old, appear in tales and perform the traditional entertainment of arguing until the radio causes people to forget all about them.
The length varies from vignette to vignette, which seems another very Chicano form,House on Mango Street and Drink Cultura come to mind. Perhaps a people who suffer with the dangers of erasement and lack of representation exist in fragments and authors pick these pieces up and shine them up to present to us readers to draw a wholeness from. Moving from the long to the short to the shorter and the long makes for an engaging read—as well as the variance of people and topics. It’s a collection of flash fiction and short stories that make a novel, or create the sense of a novel.
Many things written on Northern New Mexico seem either to decry our insistence for Spanishness or go through many tangles and hoops to support it. Denise Chavez speaks of it on her father’s side in her memoir, A Taco Testimony. Fray Angelico Chavez came from Mora. His characters go through long, tortuous explanations on how they are Spanish. For some reason, native blood and mestizoness gets disowned. The movement didn’t miss Mora, but aside from self-hate, the US invasion caused many a hispano in Tejas, Colorado, California, and even indios, to declare themselves hispanos puros so they could own land and not be hunted, as our Indian brothers and sisters were literally. I also see it as something cultural…out on the frontier, you were on the one side culturally or the other, though these things got knotted and tangled, as someone with the last name of Duncan can tell you. Melendez addresses this Spanish issue and is probably one of the best you’ll find in Chicano or Latin American literature dealing with it (this kind of thing isn’t limited to Northern New Mexico). A man whose grandmother was a Comanche captive goes about declaring his pure Spanish blood and looks the fool (he even tells the beautiful Maria that he will overlook her imperfect blood in light of her beauty).
Dr. Melendez has done the amazing, he has made a wonderful book that amasses functions and stories like stone hedge gathers ley lines: He has created a book of archives, giving this place in northern New Mexico a history, and validates our existence, our tales, records family histories, and keeps the memories, and moreover acknowledges and helps preserve the New Mexican brand of Spanish. This is a book for anyone who likes stories, but for Latinos it functions as an elder who remembers and will tell you all, if you would just sit and listen.
Jonathan Warm Day, a native of Taos Pueblo, learned painting from his mother, Eva Mirabal, an artist herself who had been a student at the Santa Fe Indian School during its artistic renaissance under the direction of Dorothy Dunn. After graduating from Taos High School, Warm Day attended Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona, then studied art at the University of New Mexico. His paintings are included in several important collections and have been exhibited in various galleries. Warm Day lives in Taos with his two daughters, Carly and Jade, both high school athletes. He makes his living as an artist and storyteller. Visit his website at http://www.jonathanwarmday.com/
Scott Russell Duncan, a.k.a. Scott Duncan-Fernandez, recently completed The Ramona Diary of SRD, a memoir of growing up Chicano-Anglo and a fantastical tour reclaiming the myths of Spanish California. Scott’s fiction involves the mythic, the surreal, the abstract, in other words, the weird. Scott received his MFA from Mills College in Oakland, California where he now lives and writes. He is an assistant editor at Somos en escrito. See more about his work and publications on Scott’s website https://scottrussellduncan.com/