Santa Fe

byJoy Harjo
The wind blows lilacs out of the east. And it isn't lilac season. And I am walk-
ing the street in front of St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe. Oh, and it's a few
years earlier and more. That's how you tell real time. It is here, it is there. The
lilacs have taken over everything: the sky, the narrow streets, my shoulders,
my lips. I talk lilac. And there is nothing else until a woman the size of a fox
breaks through the bushes, breaks the purple web. She is tall and black and
gorgeous. She is the size of a fox on the arm of a white man who looks and
tastes like cocaine. She lies for cocaine, dangles on the arm of cocaine. And
lies to me now for a room in the DeVargas Hotel, where she has eaten her
lover, white powder on her lips. That is true now; it is not true anymore. Even-
tually space curves, walks over and taps me on the shoulder. On the sidewalk
I stand near St. Francis; he has been bronzed, a perpetual tan, with birds on his
hand, his shoulder, deer at his feet. I am an Indian and in this town I will never
be a saint. I am seventeen and shy and wild. I have been up until three at a
party, but there is no woman in the DeVargas Hotel, for that story hasn't yet
been invented. A man whose face I will never remember, and never did, drives
up on a Harley-Davidson. There are lilacs on his arm; they spill out from the
spokes of his wheels. He wants me on his arm, on the back of his lilac bike
touring the flower kingdom of San Francisco. And for a piece of time the size
of a nickel, I think, maybe. But maybe is vapor, has no anchor here in the sun
beneath St. Francis Cathedral. And space is as solid as the bronze statue of St.
Francis, the fox breaking through the lilacs, my invention of this story, the
wind blowing.

© 1990 Joy Harjo. In Mad Love and War, Wesleyan University Press.

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