My Spirit Walks These Arroyos

by Nadine Waltman Harmon

I.

I wondered, sometimes, if Albert, looking at me
through the lens, saw his spirit-eye or was it only
those planes of my body, its contours, its nakedness
that meant little to me. The blind crowd of unbelievers
called his images exotic and scandalous, at a time when
jazz, flapper style was the rage and his photos were the talk
of the town and he often referenced my lineage, my
grandfather, the count, but nude photos and nobility meant
nothing to me. I had already moved on to paint my flowers
while Albert found his way through the lens, both of us remembering
the wildness of other loves that sent us in opposite directions, each
destined to follow our spirit guides. I painted, never tiring of painting a petunia
countless times while the unknowing classified my iris and Jack-in-the-pulpit
paintings as sinful, in their shallow minds finding a comparison to
a woman’s genitalia rather than seeing the mind’s eye in a flower.

II.

Each night my spirit walks through the arroyos, listening to the wild winds
talk among the painted hills where I once sat, trying to choose colors that
Earth Mother created, but I saw only myself looking back at my eye from
the socket of the white deer spirit where I painted a calico flower and gathered
bones to paint the soul of my never-ending badlands, the heart of my
“faraway nearby” where the hills met the sky and people called me bruja, witch,
but left me to wander through the years while my black hair turned white and
lines etched the planes of my face and neck while I painted what others could
not see, the wildness, the calmness of my ‘faraway’ and the changing seasons
in the arroyos, the canyons and hills of my beloved ‘faraway.’

III.

When my spirit grows weary let me climb my ladder to the moon, let me
summon one of the wild spirit mustangs of these canyons and I shall
ride, white upon white, with my hair streaming in the wind, a strange
Godiva who rides around my beloved Pedernal, through the heat, among the
piñons, through the canyons and arroyos with the seasons, a wild bruja
who rides with the wind, in thunderstorms and snow amongst the bones
and mountains of yesterday while I clutch the dark mane of nothingness.

Note: “When I think of death, I only regret that I will not be able to see this beautiful country anymore…unless the Indians are right and my spirit will walk here after I’m gone.” — Georgia O’Keefe, November 15, 1887 &ndahs; March 6, 1986


Journal, Volume 2 Issue 5