The Sunday Poem: Margaret Randall... Among the Arugula and Spinach Dip

Read on, my friends. You never know who is lurking in the produce department. Even a comic book character and movie star! This wonderful prose poem is from Randall's new book, My Town. Margaret continues to live here in the town where she grew up.

* Margaret Randall has always matched her political courage with an open heart. In My Town, she tenderly and fearlessly gives readers an insider's understanding of one of America's most fascinating and paradoxical cities. A hub of America's nuclear arsenal and a first strike military target in the Cold War, Albuquerque through Randall's eyes sits in a landscape of enormous beauty and hardship, a homey place of dark contradictions that both nurtures talent and spits out lives.

— V.B. Price, author of Albuquerque: City at the End of the World



Among the Arugula and Spinach Dip


We met at Wild Oats Deli. I recognized him by his red satin shirt, broad-brimmed hat
and spurs—as unexpected among the arugula and spinach dip as the high school senior
exciting my freshman’s beating heart half a century before.

Back then he lived with his mother in a trailer park. Mine said how nice she was a Christian Scientist too, thought him handsome and asked if he kissed well. That was Mom: never exactly who you expected beneath the liberal parent guise.

“With his mouth closed,” I said (like mother like daughter) which only encouraged her one night to show him how it’s done, reducing me to quivering shame, my thundering heart in shambles. Why couldn’t my mother play Bridge or serve warm cookies after
school?

Now he tells me how proud he was to inherit Red Ryder’s name, how he plays the county fairs imparting pure values to the kids, unsure anymore if his name is Dave or Red and answering to both. Then, as shy as all those years ago, he pushes an autographed picture to my side of the table.

When he asks what I’ve been doing all this time I say writing books. I don’t mention my woman lover or the revolution, Cuba, Nicaragua, anything I think might crowd those wide open spaces or startle the rearing steed.

“Me too,” he smiles, “I got a couple with aphorisms for the young, helps keep ‘em on the straight and narrow. You’d be surprised what tempts kids these days. It’s not like back in our time.”

I don’t say I wouldn’t be surprised, but sip my latte as I small-talk this middle-aged cowboy who once pummeled my teenage breath and had me suspended between the right prom corsage and better luck next time.

None of the little stories I pull from our briefly shared past ignite a spark of recognition; he doesn’t remember them at all.

“We should do this again,” he smiles, and I watch his red satin shoulders lope toward the door, then look down at the 8 x 10 glossy staring up from the table top, sure after all these years we’ve each made the life we were meant for.


From My Town, Wings Press, 2010. Photo of Randall, Albuquerque The Magazine.

Views: 21

Comment by cc on November 7, 2010 at 8:23am
So glad I came over to the Sunday Poem this morning, Margaret. This poem very much enjoyed. I would like to read this whole book.
Comment by Barelas Babe on November 7, 2010 at 9:22am
This poem brought a smile of recognition to my face - who hasn't experienced one of these chance encounters after years have passed? There is so much to savor here, Margaret - "aphorisms for the young", "pummeled my teenage breath", "red satin shoulders lope".

We in Albuquerque (and beyond) are so fortunate to have Margaret Randall as a poet of our town. I can't wait to read the whole book!
Comment by Don McIver on November 7, 2010 at 9:24am
"None of the little stories I pull from our briefly shared past ignite a spark of recognition; he doesn’t remember them at all."

I love this nice little detail, and how it points out how subjective our memories are. There are events in my own past that I think are shared but quite often my family, friends don't remember them even close to the same way I do.

Thank you Margaret
Comment by larry goodell on November 7, 2010 at 9:57am
these vignettes are priceless, after hearing you read this rather recently up here in Placitas, and then reading it here, thanks Margaret!
Comment by Dee Cohen on November 7, 2010 at 10:51am
Yes, very enjoyable Margaret. I like how careful the adult woman is about revealing too many facts about her life. Wouldn't want to rock those old boats. And like Don mentions, those shared memories may not be shared at all. And yet, these is a connection after all in spite of everything. Hope you have more in the book about your mother- she sounds like a pistol.
Thanks, Dee
Comment by Margaret Randall on November 7, 2010 at 11:02am
Thanks, all. Dee, there is more in the book about my mother, much more. Bookworks and a few other stores have copies, I think.
Comment by cathyray on November 7, 2010 at 11:08am
Oh, Margaret, it is wonderful & pummeled my heart. So true how our memories are not other folks memories . . . .
Comment by Ben Moffett on November 7, 2010 at 9:09pm
I read the Red Ryder comics from at least the 50s and ran into him several times at the state fair, and doing gigs in Magdalena and TorC. I think I even have his card around here somewhere. Right good yarn spinner. Thanks for the post. I gotta get your book.

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