Part 2: SelectionsDocumentCitations

“Invasions”

by Jimmy Santiago Baca

6:00 a.m.
I awake and leave to fish
the Jemez.
Coronado rode
through this light, dark
green brush,
horse foaming saliva,
tongue red and dry
as the red cliffs.
Back then the air
was bright and crisp
with Esteban's death
at the hands of Zuni warriors.
Buffalo God, as he was called,
was dead, dead, dead,
beat the drums
and rattled gourds.
The skin of the Moor
was black
as a buffalo's nose,
hair kinky
as buffalo shag-mane.
No seven cities
of Cibola gold were found.
Horses waded the Jemez,
white frothing currents
banking horse bellies,
beading foot armor,
dripping from sword scabbards.
I wade in
up to my thighs
in jeans,
throw hooked
salmon egg bait
out in shadowy shallows
beneath overhanging cottonwood, and
realize
I am the end result
of Conquistadores,
Black Moors,
American Indians,
and Europeans,
bloods rainbowing
and scintillating in me
like the trout's flurrying
flank scales
shimmering in a fight
as I reel in.
With trout
on my stringer
I walk downstream
toward my truck.
“How'd you do?” I ask
an old man walking past,
“Caught four—biting pretty good
down near that elm.”
I walk south
like Jemez and Pecos Pueblos
during 1690 uprisings,
when Spanish came north
to avenge their dead.
Indians fled
canyon rock shelters,
settling in present day
open plains.
Trout flails like a saber
dangling from scabbard stringer
tied to my belt,
chop-whacking long-haired weeds.
Peace here now. Bones
dissolved, weapons rusted.
I stop, check my sneaker prints
in moist sandy bank.
Good deep marks.
I clamber up an incline,
crouch in bushes
as my ancestors did,
peer at vacation houses
built on rock shelves,
sun decks and travel trailers—
the new invasion.

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Portrait of Jimmy Santiago Baca“Portrait of Jimmy Santiago Baca,” Unidentified (Photographer)

Jimmy Santiago Baca is a New Mexico writer of poetry and prose living in Albuquerque's South Valley.