BY JAN HAAG
He was bad, big as a mountain, and he was lonely --
from Boston, they say, old George Coluzzi --
living out there among the stars
in a cave, for many years,
like a Cliff Dweller.
He got rid
of his money.
Seemed to have a lot,
not a little, because he sure gave
a lot away, seemed to want to get rid of it --
living out there, lacking water, not washing. He stank, old
George Coluzzi. He was so filthy he died of a scratch
from his cat. Dirt fell right in off his leg, into
that little nick of a cat's clawed wound.
He died of infection in just
a week or two.
Now I don't mean
to lash a small perception
into a continental theory, but he
was an odd man. Does money make you odd?
Or solitude, or pain? He never seemed to be in pain,
always had a friendly word, and food to give, if you wanted
to eat from a kitchen of dirt, from a dirty man, in the depths
of a cave in the earth. Cats and wild boar and birds eat
right from the earth. Nature doesn't seem to mind.
Now what old George Coluzzi seemed to do
for a living -- not for eating or drinking
mind you -- but to stay and be
alive -- was cut rock.
He was big, you know,
powerful, probably ate bobcats
and rats -- things you probably wouldn't want
to touch, even if they'd been clean. Nobody ever saw
him at a store. But to stay and be alive, he cut rock. He'd climb
up the side of Mt. Truchas, where the Penitente live, and get one hellava
great big boulder and shoulder it down, or roll it down in a kind of
harness. Holding it back, he'd make it go slow so as not to
create an avalanche
-- didn't want everything coming his way at once. Taking his chosen
he'd haul it down to the cave. Sisyphus found it hard going up hill,
but George restrained his rock coming down. He'd haul his single
boulder carefully -- sometimes it took days -- down to his cave.
Sometimes his cave wasn't big enough, so he'd stand
it out on the lip -- and carve. He'd knock
away at that rock, and you'd see
gods of the sun and the rain
and the storm, the day and the night
and peace emerge, sometimes pink, sometimes
white and sometimes a soft rust or copper-tinted green.
He'd cut and polish these colossal things -- What could you call
them but things? -- out of bits of the landscape from above Santa Fe.
He'd carve them out of the Sangre de Cristo, then haul them back to
where he found them, and leave them there for the wind and the rain
gods, for the storm
gods, under the crimson sky -- in the yearning for peace.
Then he'd choose another to go on
making a living in his cave, on his mountain, until he died of filth
and a scratch.
He didn't have any money on him then. Now, every-once-in-awhile
some museum or archaeologist finds a bit of "prehistoric" carving,
lodged upon the mountain out there above the city of Holy
Faith, carved from the Blood of Christ. They sell for
over a million by now, if you happen to
find one for yourself, but I haven't
seen anyone get one lately
and give the money
Inspired by a story in Winfield Townley Scott's "A Calendar of Santa Fe"
Written for the opening of The Broken Oak Center for Music & The Arts,
Silver City, New Mexico, September 3, 1989
Copyright © 2000 Jan Haag
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: email@example.com
I Am Innuit
BY JAN HAAG