Pepper by Terry Wilson


“Is Pepper home?” I asked my niece Cathy about her daughter, my grand-niece. “I have gifts!”

“She’s upstairs,” Cathy said. “Go surprise her!”

We were visiting Buffalo for eight days, and I was currently with my older sister, Margaret, who is grandma to all the kids we were visiting. We’d just been to the cemetery to place flowers on my Mom’s grave—my sister seems to know everyone in the graveyard and makes me visit them all.

“Pepper?” I yelled up the stairs. “It’s Aunt Terry!” I started up.

“Wait!” a little voice called from the second floor. “I can’t find my bra!”

Bra? I thought. She’s only nine! “OK,” I called up. “Tell me when you’re ready!”

A minute later she yelled, “Ready!” And I met her in her room.

“I just put two tee-shirts on cause I couldn’t find it,” she said. “It’s just a training bra, anyway.” She stood there smiling, her hair in blonde springs around her face, her body stocky and strong.

“Are you still nine?” I asked.

“I’ll be ten in six weeks!” she said. “Do you have those Monster High dolls for us this time?”

I looked around her room. There were dolls of all shapes and sizes on every shelf I could see. Stuffed animals on the bed too, and a chair that could only be described as a Princess Throne with a pink veil all around it. Pepper played on a hockey team though—maybe she didn’t spend much time in her Princess chair anymore.

“Your Mom says you have too many dolls already,” I said. “This time I got you all gift cards….” Her mouth turned down. “And I bought you earrings and some lip gloss too; you’ll see.”

“Yes, I AM almost a teenager,” she said, tossing her hair. “Now which of my perfumes do you want to try?”

I had to go in the hallway while she grabbed three awful smelling potions.

“Just stand there; now walk through it,” she instructed me. “I’ll show you.”

She sprayed a cloud of horrible green liquid in the air and then glided through.

“Now strut,” she said, “strut. Strike a pose.” She stopped and turned while holding her chin in her left hand and smiling. “Face the camera.”

I coughed.

“Who taught you that?” I asked.

“Three people,” she said. “Me, myself, and I.”

“Let me try the purple one,” I said.

“Ode to Paree?” she asked. She sprayed that one and I walked through it.

“Now strut,” she said. “Strike a pose.” I did as instructed.

“I like that one,” I croaked, choking on the fumes.

“We’ll have to go to Paris together,” she said. That one is also my favorite.”

“What’s next?” I asked.

“Well, you should learn this new dance,” she said. Her hips swayed back and forth so I tried it. Not that hard except if I kept it up, I would need a chiropractor.

“What’s this move called?” I asked.

“Flossing!” she said and giggled.

Seriously, if I had this girl around, I would not need antidepressants.


Terry Wilson teaches Exploring Creative Writing (English 120) which begins Aug. 22. In this class, students work on memoir, fiction, and other types of creative non-fiction, as well as poetry. Terry’s students have been published in The Santa Fe Literary Review, the Santa Fe Reporter, Pasatiempo, The SUN, and they have also won many awards in the SFCC Student Writing Competition. Terry’s class is fun, supportive, and helps students break their writing blocks! (There are still a few openings.)

Prayer Circle by Cheryl Marita

Re-printed from the Eunoia Review:

Prayer Circle by Cheryl Marita

Rosaries dangle from rock overhangs in shrines along the Santa Cruz River at the Santuario. Santuario faithful come bearing pain, craving miracles. Miracles to cure the addiction to deaden the pain of poverty. Poverty of the soul, of the land, of the culture. Culture embedded in years of working the soil, growing crops, living in community surrounded by generations of love. Love that brought grandmothers’ recipes for tamales, stories of La Llorona, secret skills to grow the best chile, sad secrets on how to shoot heroin. Heroin that smooths the souls of children stuck between the cultures of having enough and never having enough. Enough pain to be angry, enough love to survive. Survival is not what the kids desire. Desire steeped on the TV screen, internet, Facebook, Instagram, all shouting for riches, fast fun. Fun that is imaginary for the masses, especially people of the earth. Earth suffers along with the grandmothers as soil cries for water.

Water and jobs are the droughts that bring poverty to Northern New Mexico. New Mexico, with beautiful mountains, rivers, valleys artistic and magnificent. Magnificent to view, to paint, but without an economy for people to flourish. Flourishing cultures of the past built with acequias to carry the Rio Grande to the fields. Fields toiled by grandparents, children, grandchildren alongside each other to provide corn, chile, beans for the winter. Winters that brought snow, quiet solace, story telling. Stories of joy, of caution – to beware of La Llorona. La Llorona who walks the river, while her voice wails. Wails for her children just as the grandmothers of today wail for their children. Children and grandchildren taught to escape poverty through a bottle or a needle. Needles that steal lives. Lives lost long before their bodies are buried in the ground.

Ground that ancestors battled over, plowed under, flooded with the water from the acequias. Acequias that brought water for life, for food, for family. Families now fractured, tortured by loss. Loss that grandmothers push into their prayers on each bead of their rosary.
Cheryl Marita shares her work with end-of-life issues on her blog. Decades of hospice work, palliative care and life offer up characters and stories. She has been published in The Santa Fe Literary Review and has poetry in an anthology, Bosque

A Miracle of Mediation by Lucy Moore

Miracles Happen by Lucy Moore

There are intractable conflicts rooted in history all over the country. Conflicts over flags, over statues, over celebrations, over naming of public places, over school curriculum, and on and on. Sometimes it seems that only a miracle could resolve them. Well, I am proud to announce that a miracle has happened, right here in Santa Fe. But I must begin with the history, because as with many conflicts that’s where it all began.

In the late 1500’s Spanish conquistadors marched from what is now Mexico north in search of the famed cities of gold. Anyone they met along the way was astounded at the sight of these armored, spear-carrying, bearded strangers and sent them on. “Oh, the cities of gold? Yes, they are about 100 miles to the north.” Reaching as far north as what is now Colorado and as far east as what is now Nebraska, they finally gave up the search and settled along the Rio Grande, running north to south through what is now New Mexico.

After two or three generations, the Pueblos decided to rid themselves of the Spanish and return to the pre-conquest days. Several pueblos rose up in a coordinated attack on the Spanish and drove them south in 1680. It was a remarkable feat and they reaped twelve years of peace. But in 1692 under the leadership of Don Diego de Vargas the Spanish returned to retake Santa Fe and their abandoned Palace of the Governors. The Palace had been built on top of Tesuque Pueblo, and the pueblo warriors were ready to defend their traditional homeland. Although on that first day the sight of a canon convinced the Indians to retreat, the re-conquest of the area took three bloody years of battle. With conquest complete, Pueblos and Spanish settled into co-existence. The pueblos were probably resigned to this new way of life, and the Spanish were probably somewhat more respectful neighbors, now knowing that expulsion was possible.

Today, over 320 years later, Pueblo Indians, Hispanic descendants of the conquistadors, and newcomer (1800s) Anglos live in relative harmony. Conquests and subsequent exploitation may be distant in terms of years, but how this history is remembered is critical today. In Santa Fe, a commemoration dates from 1712, when the Spanish proclaimed an annual celebration of the shared faith of Spanish and Pueblos. With some interruptions a statue of the Virgin Mary, called La Conquistadora (which had come with the cannon in 1692), has been carried every year from her home in the cathedral to the plaza and returned.

In 1911 in an effort to increase tourism in Santa Fe, an Episcopal priest added the entrada, to the event. This was a re-enactment of the supposed “peaceful re-conquest” of Santa Fe in 1692, complete with a local Hispanic dressed as DeVargas riding into the plaza with his men on horseback, and then meeting a local Pueblo Indian who kneels before the conqueror, and is touched by a sword on his shoulder while DeVargas makes a speech. The speech credits La Conquistadora with the bloodless re-conquest.

The entrada is only a part of what is the three-day Fiestas de Santa Fe in early September, but it has been the center of controversy for many years, as Pueblos are increasingly distressed with what they see as a humiliating and inaccurate version of history. The Caballeros de Santa Fe, the fraternal organization that produces the entrada every year is devoted to their belief that the re-conquest was bloodless, thanks to La Conquistadora’s miracle. The Santa Fe Fiesta Council, responsible for the larger celebration of which the entrada is a part, has been unable to resolve the conflict. Local elected leaders have promised to address the issue, with no success.
Protesting the entrada

Last September, frustrated Indians and their supporters interrupted the entrada in a protest that resulted in arrests. Again there were letters and editorials, promises and threats, criticism on all sides. Would we be facing an escalated protest in 2018?

The All Pueblo Council of Governors stepped up. They called for the mayor of Santa Fe and the Archbishop “to engage in a respectful and principled deliberative dialogue…to define a process for genuine reconciliation to heal the wounds of the past and celebrate the beauty of our respective cultures, traditions and people.” They warned of escalation “into a regrettable set of circumstances where innocent people are victimized…and a militaristic response could reopen wounds that have taken many generations to heal.”

Enter Regis Pecos, a former Cochiti Pueblo governor, a Princeton graduate, a lawyer, and founder of the Leadership Institute which nurtures young Natives and Hispanics to draw on their cultures, histories and communities to become leaders. In addition, he is, in my opinion, a miracle worker.

Regis brought together representatives of the All Pueblo Council of Governors, the Santa Fe Fiesta Council, the Caballeros de Santa Fe, the mayor and the Archbishop of Santa Fe, and met behind closed doors for several months. All present agreed that Regis would be the sole spokesperson for the group and that everything said would remain confidential until an agreement was reached. This was critical since any leaks could have spurred supporters of one side or the other to threaten the process.

At last on July 25, the headline of The New Mexican read “Fiesta Drops Divisive Entrada Pageant.” My heart leapt with joy, instead of sinking into my stomach as is usually the case with headlines these days. Regis was interviewed and reported the results. The entrada, added in 1911, will no longer be part of the Fiesta. Those at the table agreed to return to the original intent of the 1712 proclamation…which calls for “Vespers, Mass, Sermon and Procession through the Main Plaza.” He added that the All Pueblo Council of Governors also had passed a resolution establishing a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission to plan and redesign a more inclusive and celebratory commemoration.”

Pueblo reaction ranged from “humbled and grateful” from Elena Ortiz of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, to “super happy” from Jennifer Marley from San Ildefonso Pueblo who was arrested last year. There are also some cautious “wait and see”s.

The Caballeros are planning on an alternative celebration on the plaza during Fiestas, without the re-enactment or mention of the conquest. Regis said there are also plans for a series of events before the kick-off of Fiestas “to commemorate the negotiations of reconciliation.” I am hopeful that this September will bring us a peaceful celebration of the resolution of a nasty conflict.

As a mediator, I am full of admiration for Regis. This was as intractable a conflict as any, rooted in a long and painful history. Adding to the challenge, there are two starkly different versions of that history, one of which has become entwined with the belief in the power of statue. Further, it is unusual for a conflict to be mediated by someone who belongs to one side, but Regis was obviously able to gain everyone’s trust. I am guessing he showed a sincere respect for all present and a deep appreciation for the impact history. He makes me believe in miracles.

To see the article in its original form:

Haiku in the Botanical Garden

Haiku in the Santa Fe Botanical Garden with Miriam Sagan

Saturday, September 15th, 2018. 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Location: Santa Fe Botanical Garden Pavilion, 715 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505 Cost: Member $15; Not-yet-member $20 Please register in advance here.
Become a SFBG Member today and begin receiving discounts. Join/Renew here! Please join us for a haiku writing workshop in the garden suitable for all.

Just As These Fingers On These Keys Make Music…

Forty years ago, at MacDowell, I saw a composer razor notes from a score. I’m sure the technology has changed, but the image has stayed with me. I’m continuing to work with composer David Beatty on the piece he is writing for the Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble. He asked for an extension of the section based on the season of spring. I don’t know what he’ll use, but the process is exciting. And the premier is in April, 2019!

The music’s score is torn—
spring wind has pulled the notes
away, right off the page
so melody fills the air,
half heard and then confused
with the scent of honeysuckle
a buzz of bees,
plants a meadow
in the mind’s eye
mustard, purple peas, Queen Anne’s lace.

the mice in the cold stove,
hail on the tin roof,
castanets of rain,
We might be
but we’re not—
we’re here.
I’m waiting for you.

And I love these piano installations at

Is This Little Piece of Flash Memoir Too Weird? Narrative Fallacy by Miriam Sagan

Narrative Fallacy

The inventor of swarm theory is found dehydrated, disoriented, and naked, wandering by the side of a rural highway in central New Mexico.
I read you this opening sentence of a story I have yet to write. I ask you–what should happen next?
You say: someone should come along in a truck, maybe your first husband with the baby in the car seat. She really was a pretty baby.
Naw, I say. I’m sick of my first–now long dead–husband. Maybe it should be an old beat up white guy in a truck. But one of those weird rancher types who is the caretaker of the Lightning Field or something, who knows all about land art and earthworks.
OK, you say.
You don’t really care, it isn’t your story, but you pay attention because you are a good friend.
We are in a laundromat in Maine. Actually we are at a conference at a camp that has its own washing machines, but you prefer town. Between us we don’t have enough for a white load, so we just mix it all together.
“Once,” you say, “the moon fell in love with woman. She turned herself into a lamp. He was so fat and round he could’t fit through the doorway of the yurt.”
“Good,” I say. “Tell me more.”