NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Tuesday August 4th 2020

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RETURNING

CHAPTER 2

By PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL

Luz fell asleep on the 21 bus—again—and went several stops past 17th.  She didn’t realize it until she was just passing the Zapata statue.  She yanked on the cord so hard it almost broke, and yelled, “Stop! Stop! Damn it, I said Stop!”, which is not a good thing to yell on the 21 during rush hour.  Actually, it’s not a good thing to yell anything on the 21 during rush hour, or most any other hour, period.  People do it of course, but it almost always increases the tightness in the passenger’s bodies, bodies that are tight enough to begin with.

The bus stopped just shy of the Dollar Store on 10th.  Luz stomped down the three steps in her winter boots and stepped right into a slushy pile, made up of equal parts ice, snow and dirt. She yelled up to heaven, “You Stop too!”, but heaven was busy with wars and rumors of war and earthquakes and the like.   Luz was tired, she was frustrated, she was mad.  Mad at God, mad at herself, mad at this world that was so hard to live in.

Luz had been planning to surprise Angel and the kids with some of the fabulous chicken from the little kitchen in the gas station on 17th.  Especially Angelito, who she swore could live off of chicken, rice, Hot Cheetos and Takis and nothing else.  They hadn’t been able to eat out lately, with money so tight.  But Luz had gotten a letter the day before from an uncle she never knew, who had showed up at their wedding almost seven years ago.  Tio Miguel, who had retired from teaching at Luna Community College in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and who now taught poetry workshops in English, Spanish and Nahuatlin barrios and pueblos all around the Southwest.  The letter had included a poem he had written for Luz, and two twenties.

She could still remember the last line of the poem: until the day la Luna unveils her dark.  She knew that literally Tio Miguel was referring to the dark side of the moon, which humans can never see from earth.  But she wanted to read the poem again with Angel, and explore with him what else it might mean.

But now she had to walk seven extra blocks with wet feet and a pissed off mood.  Fortunately, her literature class at Augsburg had been reading works by wonderful women poets.  She was writing her paper on Gwendolyn Brooks, and kept coming back to that line of hers:“It must be lonely to be God.”

Luz knew lonely.  How lonely she had felt holding in secret all that she had suffered as a girl and a teenager.  She had Angel now, She had Angelito and Lupe to love and hold.  But she still felt a deep loneliness.  She had started going to church—to a church with a lady pastor, no less!  She felt some comfort there, some release from the past.  But she knew there was something that still needed to be uncovered.  But she wasn’t sure how to do it, of even if she really wanted to.

As she approached Spirit on Lake, she remembered how she had traveled these streets with Angel years ago.  How they found helpers in the most unlikely places.  She was wondering if there were helpers who were out there now, and how she might find them, when the door of the Quatrefoil bookstore opened and a soft but strange light flowed out.  There was a man who smiled at her and said, “C’mon in—we have something special in store today!”

And though she was tired, and still hoped to get the chicken and spend some time with Angel and the kids before Angel went out to work a long shift, something pulled her into the bookstore.  Something strange, but not at all scary.

To be continued…
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