Untitled | Miriam Sagan

Image: Fr. Daniel Ciucci


it’s no longer the Elysian Fields, this
barrio, but the shrine of the sinner is
still decorated in the pocket park
across from the elementary school
and the bakery

El Tiradito may be crumbling
but notes from the heartbroken still
decorate the grave of the unknown
some say a man
killed in a knife fight
over a woman
buried on unconsecrated ground
as doves wheel from the

wishes on slips of paper
pushed between adobe bricks
a panhandler asked for
money but I refused
walking away from the great altar
of the Virgin of Guadalupe

I’m neither wholly good nor
bad I don’t even try anymore
to be myself
because I don’t know
who that is
although I did buy a slice
of jelly roll and two
doughnuts at Estrella’s

and all that is left
at the bottom of the paper
bag is crumbs
but whether for birds
or wind—
you tell me—
I can’t decide

Miriam Sagan is the author of over thirty books of poetry, fiction, and memoir. Her most recent include Bluebeard’s Castle (Red Mountain, 2019) and A Hundred Cups of Coffee (Tres Chicas, 2019). She is a two-time winner of the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards as well as a recipient of the City of Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and a New Mexico Literary Arts Gratitude Award. She has been a writer in residence in four national parks, Yaddo, MacDowell, Gullkistan in Iceland, Kura Studio in Japan, and a dozen more remote and interesting places. She works with text and sculptural installation as part of the creative team Maternal Mitochondria in venues ranging from RV Parks to galleries. She founded and directed the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College until her retirement.

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