The meeting drags on. Time is frozen. The space between a smile and a grimace is the edge of a fine blade and the width of a canyon. And you maintain the smile hoping it is not seen as the rictus you feel. Politeness requires a smile, your heart requires a fast escape. So you stay and tweak all of the little facial muscles to maintain the semblance of a smile. You don’t watch the clock on the wall, for it is only a source of frustration. When you leave for home, your face feels almost sore around the lips.
The difference between love and lust is as thin as the blade of a fine razor, as broad as the Rio Grande Canyon outside Taos, so how can you tell one from the other? Some will say it is an impossible task others will take the “I know it when I see it” route leading nowhere. There is no easy answer, certainly, but those who have tasted love will tell you the difference is monumental and elemental. I have wanted a woman deeply, cared for her, missed her in her absence but when my love, my lover, is not here I am incomplete, and that is an abyss into which I dread falling.
My ancestors stole your tongue and left you mute in a world you could not grasp. Now as I search for words of forgiveness I can find none, for my voice is clogged with foreign phrases that once told of your ancestors who lived amid these rocks. We schooled you, stealing your spirit, which whispers to us as the sun climbs slowly over the great stone set deep into the endless desert. When the wind comes down from the north, it sings a song which cuts through our coats and deeply into our bones. There is no one who will claim us when we are plundered for display in some museum, no one to sing a blessing to ward off the spirits that will haunt us into the next life. The ghosts of your people walk among us and we can, at last, hear their whispered entreaties carried on the wind deep into the canyon.
He stands on the edge of the canyon and peers into the river etched below. At first you think he is considering jumping, but his gaze is too studious, as if he is waiting for some particular moment. You are correct, he is waiting for a particular moment and when it arrives he shouts at the far canyon wall, entreating God and the ghosts that inhabit the nearby cliff dwellings. God answers in the man’s voice, echoing his plea, and the ghosts take up the chorus. He smiles and retreats from the precipice certain that he,
and all who are holy, sing in harmony.