Crisosto Apache

★ ★ ★ ★


Image by Nicholas Zegel

Always Asphalt (R)
for my father

I always leave one place and move to another, 
not knowing the endless cracks in the roadway

never becoming the scruples of caverns connecting 
the lines on both palms and the millimeters of miles,
to sense only the imposing grip upon the rubber

remembering the day, the moment, the minute
of forgotten places  — or the willingness to drive —

the undulant motion spans more than thirty years 
and always encountering brief meetings that
precludes generously as exchanges of affection
— ending, always leading back
— a thirty-year unpleasant reminder

the transplantation of place and motion
fosters memories of a dream, from earlier 
years to a unsettling moment before my birth, 
during the colonial era, as a woman recalled  
her grandfather’s death, as an uncovered carriage 
rolled by through the mud and recalled the details 
of hidden experience, perhaps remnants of a 
a memory, too far in the distant past, a vessel
stranded out on a lake, unreachable, unattainable

grief and longing pass relentlessly across 
a barren landscape, counting a frayed canvas
and (I) a child remembering that female in a dream
and in sleep cried for empty inert kin and now 
feeling the need to rejoin him

this recurring memory of distance translates 
into diffidence of transmigration, and (trans)isolation 
moving forward in the transportation of adapting 
motion toward a state of acclimation, where there
is never a beginning or end to the lines on the road

later in history, a closer inspection uncovers a deep rust 
of insipid water, encasing and exposing a liquid purple
near the surface of the skin, 
— a subject [the red people] 
— or an object [still, the red people]
pushing the process of the thickening blood 
to a natural and insistent hour, passing the days 
of generous visitations, where a blind man sits 
sequestering on the edge of his bed

a 500 drive will not suffice for this belated homage, 
and unchanging stillness of impressive unforgiveness  

a ghost lays dormant inside a limbic curve, waiting for 
the coming seasons of brown bottles wet in a grip 

winter hides the frost caps of the Sandia Mountains, 
where rose dust envelops the early morning

the almighty paint job           — unmistakable —
dream of a blasting 1956 Cadillac, shimmers
the shadow glistens on the reflection of the car, 
shellac as champagne and turquoise against
 the gaudy Chief Joseph upholstery 

speeding toward Albuquerque, the memories 
of a Blue Spruce, drunk on a looming bar stool, 
reminiscing about the Cadillac speeding down
a dirt road, maybe on a Tó hajíílee pall of dust 
[origin of water]            — the wayward dream —

a journey of ascending off-ramps and construction 
the music blaring, and the voice of rubber carnage 
pounding the asphalt pulls the reservation line open
• driving skillfully against an acculturative end 

a vibrant vehicle, a state of mind after thirty-plus years 
leaves me flitting in a turbulent blaze and dust particles

the engine rivets loudly rumbling in its fume
— vibration in my jeans
— ignition into flame
— sparkplugs bursting in time
— electric shroud falls upon the eccentric buzz 

miles of unending miles finally come to a stop 
— halt of silence
— the car never starts again
— no fair warning
— stranded and hissing
— stuck on the open road 
with an insatiable urge for a fix to finish the journey

ode to all the flexing gearboxes and shifting muscles 
ode to all the sliding gears recoiling, cocking
ode to all the rubber carcasses on fiery asphalt
ode to all the fascinations of murmuring truck stops
ode to all the filthy streets and riveting back roads
ode to all the beer cans flying from crusting windows
ode to all hitchhiking along the dimming interstates 
ode to all cigarettes littering the rising medians

— in the rearview mirror, I am leaving
— the image of a father moves to another place

Crisosto Apache is from Mescalero, New Mexico, on the Mescalero Apache reservation. They are Mescalero Apache, Chiricahua Apache, and Diné (Navajo) of the Salt Clan, born for the Towering House Clan. They hold an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and are a professor of English. They are also an editor-at-large for The Offing Magazine. Apache’s books are GENESIS (Lost Alphabet) & Ghostword (Gnashing Teeth Publishing) winner of the Publishing Triangle’s 2023 Betty Berzon Emerging Writers Award and a finalist for the 2023 Colorado Author’s League Award in poetry. They also are a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. 


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.