The Sunday Poem: Tracey Dahl.... "La Cueva, the Cave"


Tracey Dahl is an active member of the poetry community. She was born and raised in Albuquerque and is going to school right now at CNM. She has been published in The Rag and forthcoming in Pemmican. She continues to work with youth and other poets. She is Haiku Deathmatch Champion as well as the co-coach for the youth team ABQ Unidos. She will be co-featuring Church of Beethoven with Tracey Pontani in August.

Tracey says, "This poem was written out of necessity. It had to be written. I write daily and always because I must. I grew up on this street in order to move on."
***


La Cueva, the cave,
my childhood street;
she is quiet now.
The dead end, backed up to a freeway
of busy drivers in a hurry.
I was never in a hurry then,
unaware of irony in street signs,
dead end, redundant and smelling of home.
Circumvented in traffic, she is still.
Unhurried by time and growing.
The home we rented to raise ourselves
alongside our parents. We were never busy
in childhood and dreaming, in growing
without effort of sunshine.
She is scented with apricot blossoms
and tempered grass. She is heavy and thick
in saliva, memory weighed.

The family that lives there now,
painted the garage door red,
heresy compared to it's yellowed past.
They don't know about us,
the dog we had and hid from the landlord,
the slip'n'slide we developed, hosed in the front yard,
the strawberries we grew in back.
The tree house Dad built.
They don't know about all that.

The time Dad was escorted away
from La Cueva by siren damned lights.
Mama called the cops and let midnight
tuck us in. Our pajamas marred by fighting parents.
Until Mama felt guilty and asked me to rumrun Dad's wallet
outside, undercover cargo barefoot and navigating
crab grass like starpath. I remember his hands hanging
like a dead man over the wall, limp and waiting
for me. My childhood deviancy is still written
in clover patch beneath laundry line;
the bottom of dirt scalded feet.

The time my brother and I joined
our bicycles in union, secular matrimony
of spring and tire tread. We forced love
into the inanimate, aluminum bent heartbeats.
Snowball flowers pulled away in handfuls
in place of rice. Mama yelled at us for hurting
the tree blossoms, so later, we only took
the fallen petals, the peace of pain and guilt,
it is a marriage, our bicycles. The safety
of a semi bound street.

La Cueva, she is silent now.
We all grow quieter and quieter
with age. The oldest tree on earth
never made a sound when it died.
The hollow of a cave is comfort,
the threat of bear cub and hibernation.
Safety still, the lack of wind in a home,
warmth as a lullaby. The swatted end
of a storm door. The porch we watched
lightning from. The heavy of scars
and falling. The Cave is home
in the way a scar is memory.

***

[Photographs of Tracey Dahl by Gina Marselle]

Submissions to the ditchrider are always welcome. Send poem, bio, pic, and any commentary to theditchrider@gmail.com ....

Views: 33

Tags: Sunday, Tracey Dahl, cave, ditchrider, home, la cueva, poem, the

Comment by Ben Moffett on June 27, 2010 at 11:30am
I love this poem, Tracey. Good work. It brings out some melancholy in me, but that's not all bad. It reminds me of my teenage home in the South Valley. The name, Bonita Road, was more uplifting than La Cueva, perhaps, but it didn't live up to its "pretty" name. It was a dirt road with outhouses in the back yards and 40-foot wells that provided the drinking water the entire distance between Isleta Highway and La Vega Road, with few exceptions. Still, the memories were mixed. I think it provided the marriage you spoke of -- the peace of pain and guilt. And the opportunity for better things to come, which happened for me. Reading this will benefit me from this day forward, and I appreciate it.
Comment by lisa gill on June 27, 2010 at 12:17pm
For me too it sparked memories and wistfulness and thoughts on the way architecture listens. Pluswe should all be so deviant as to impact clover patches... and I can't praise enough the language/rhythm of these lines:

Safety still, the lack of wind in a home,
warmth as a lullaby. The swatted end
of a storm door.

Beautiful tight language throughout, which I enjoy in all of Tracey's work...
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on June 29, 2010 at 8:25am
I can see it, feel you and night and family and bikes and love--deep and broad like desert. You are so talented, the phrases come from eons of poems in your archival personages-- This is your calling, rock it. xoxoxox
Comment by Gina M on June 29, 2010 at 2:00pm
Congratulations on publishing your poem, Tracey. In particular, I love the last stanza....I was trying to pick out one line that was my favorite, but I decided it was the entire stanza...

"La Cueva, she is silent now.
We all grow quieter and quieter
with age. The oldest tree on earth
never made a sound when it died.
The hollow of a cave is comfort,
the threat of bear cub and hibernation.
Safety still, the lack of wind in a home,
warmth as a lullaby. The swatted end
of a storm door. The porch we watched
lightning from. The heavy of scars
and falling. The Cave is home
in the way a scar is memory."

Good job!

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