By Harrison Candelaria Fletcher.

“Sink deep take hold these veins of time his mother’s stories labyrinthian rhymes she was once driving north tracing dust boot tracks to her abluelo’s rancho burned in Navajo attacks seeking ashes seeking nails seeking smoke for her shrines…

Cactus Blossom by Nadia Attura.

Coyote digs a cutting from an un-blossomed lilac in the garden of strays in his mother’s front yard beneath the cataract window of his childhood room holding fragrance like desire like directions home to the center of a source he can never seem to find some past some future some path untried through sand through sediment through rock through stone through an uncertain lineage toward a skin of his own toward an underground river nourishing all of his sides his mother’s voice rises silver moons in her eyes in her cottonwood hands holding brown dirt white dirt red dirt rust you cannot force this flower unfold your trust the color of these grains are who you are try to plant both feet beneath this star under the Southwestern sun pour memory vines sink deep take hold these veins of time.




Sink deep take hold these veins of time his mother’s stories labyrinthian rhymes she was once driving north tracing dust boot tracks to her abluelo’s rancho burned in Navajo attacks seeking ashes seeking nails seeking smoke for her shrines when a white feather blossomed bright before her eyes its owl wings wide from adobe cracks sending clock hands spinning generations back to hibiscus tea steam in her abuelita’s words breathing creation variations like delicate birds so she clipped the lilac shoot to plant with clay shards beside her Staff of Saint Joseph her Tree of Hearts from ancestral gardens a chorus rises from Rio Grande Valley to llano horizon resilient notes from river-washed wood from sun-bleached bones as candles melt on her bedside shelf she transplanted roots by reburying herself.




Transplanting his roots by reburying himself four hundred miles north on a Midwestern shelf his shovel blade digs deep into shallow ground his root-ball tight his root-ball bound his mother’s voice burns under southwest-facing sun planting his lilac in a wild mint lawn as nightfall drifts down his daughter’s bedroom window a street light pulses mothwing silver labyrinthian light-shadow fragrance all its own he tries to step back water prune to monitor growth but the pendulum swings with too much change maybe too hard soil maybe too much shade the stems bend back to a past too rigid too fragile to last too loud to listen pulling him back toward all he has left direction lost energy spent in this new chosen home weeds grip smother squeeze from thorns come blood bright burrowing seeds.




Bright burrowing seeds he casts to the wind another cross-country move another cross-compass spin two thousand miles strange to Confederate tombs to segregation stains to raven carcass blooms he plants his mother’s lilac against mid-Colonial bricks as his shovel blade sparks as his shovel blade spits an alien culture of lead bullet smiles of mint julip sweet rot of white possum eyes he cannot see beyond his own cast shadow beyond his expectation beyond his nostalgia his chase is his maze origin stories all he needs without turning new soil he himself he deceives as locusts grind in unbreathable heat too wet to swallow cobwebs weep beneath his daughter’s window young leaves burn with feasting grasshoppers seething worms memory stagnant on sorrow ground facing behind blossoms drown.




Blossoms drown on highway speed breaking back West insatiable need his potted lilac his cats kid wife close as he can to the New Mexico line yet more like Wyoming a high prairie shelf in barbed wire sutures recognizing himself his scar never healing his searching too long his recycled promise to make the staying strong yet another new town yet another new job yet the rootbound root-ball somehow still strong in a small apartment corner bending toward the horizon sky trying to reframe his framing to redirect his backward eye to recognize the privilege of choosing where to stand to breathe in gratitude to drink from open hands in his mother’s story a flower from ash a shoot from nails a grace from grass the wind-shifting sand a song he knows let grains take seed take root make bone.




Take root make bone he cannot force this flower his mother’s words drift through his cataract window to the sixteen lilacs in her garden of strays all colors of the wheel all candles she prays by rescuing seeds from the soil of her past by summoning ghosts through a veil of grass she gathers vines from her created myth to tend to trim to shape to shift from mixed-blood letting from Old World Spain from her olive tree family a resurrection through pain a cutting to believe the blossom of Mary in the furrows of her sleeves the offshoots many as purple is suffering as magenta is love as blue is grace a labyrinth above as lavender is emotion is expression is spirit the river runs within him if only he will hear it a mystery blossoming from faith from sun embrace the release the unfolding unknown.




The unfolding unknown a quaint yellow farmhouse a quaint college town his shovel bites deep into river-fed ground through grass through sand toward Southwestern sun Coyote buries his longing his impulse to run the root-bound roots break through memory mud this cross he carried this rut he dug his mother writes his daughter in blue cursive lines her family stories ancestral vines pressed between pages lilacs unfold labyrinthian arteries generations old tendrils binding below and between through a clear-eyed window a street light beams a temporal current from a deep-earth source a silver moon star a centrifugal force the blossom finally blooms not white as he believed but a pale lavender with ashen seeds breathe in breathe out the fragrance of ghosts from soul-watered ground a cutting sown.

The Blood Pudding – June 1, 2023

Harrison Candelaria Fletcher is the author of Descanso for My Father, Presentimiento: A Life in Dreams, and his newest, Finding Querencia: Essays from In Between. Recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, Autumn House Press Nonfiction Prize, Colorado Book Award and New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, his work has appeared in New Letters, TriQuarterly, Puerto del Sol and elsewhere. He teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts and Colorado State University.

Artwork: Nadia Attura graduated from The London College of Printing with a Postgraduate in Photojournalism. She works as a fine artist based in London. Nadia creates photographed details made on location which are then layered to form a tableaux of collected scenes within a scene, together they convey a sense of place and time. Often the original photograph disappears from documentary single imagery toward a more painterly poetic interpreted view of the world. You can find more about her here.