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
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.