9 drawings, 2 halftones

Astonishing Light

Conversations I Never Had with Patrociño Barela
By E.A. Mares



E. A. Mares never crossed paths with the great New Mexico sculptor Patrociño Barela, but the conversations he imagines with this gifted Taos artist (c. 1900–1964) are uncannily vivid and persuasive. Readers of Mares's play about Padre Martínez, another historic Taoseño, know that Mares was able to channel spirits. The poet and the ghost of the sculptor, conversing like two old men at the Geronimo Lounge, find much in common. For readers unfamiliar with Barela's art, photographer Miguel Gandert and artist Frank McCulloch have contributed illustrations to bring his magnificent expressionist carvings to life.

So we begin, all languages

being equal. The language of dreams,

the sinuous curves in the language

of curved wood. The language of desire,

of music, of words moist with love. . . .

So we start with the wood, Patrociño,

or the word. Our raw materials here,

in your workshop, where the pot-bellied stove

keeps out the dark and cold of winter.

Music, of words moist with love.

Subjects: SouthwestPoetry

Contributor Bios
Poet and historian E. A. “Tony" Mares (1938–2015) was a professor emeritus of English at the University of New Mexico. He lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico.