Adobe Morning is the name of the coffee for sale. Such is the grammar of la madrugada. And I sit and tell no one about the crush I have on an Acoma man, his laughter fashioned and returning to my memory like a famished hummingbird. And as I sip the coffee named, branded, labeled Adobe Morning, I cannot help but sink into this place, this space, this Southwest.
Who have I become, a cliché even unto myself?
Such is the grammar of la madrugada, that I want to stack all the words of my American Southwest, press them against each other like a gathering of holy paper, a ridiculous mountain. I want to give myself worth through the grammar of this land – adobe, abuelita, agua y tierra. I want to convince you that I am of this place, and I want to impress you with the language of my ancestors. I want to use the word ancestors.
Such is the grammar of la madrugada.
The Acoma man speaks in a manner that is both professional and knowledgeable, and I wonder if English is his first language, or if he masters the Keresan language just the same? And in the space that is both question and cliché, I sit and sip coffee in la madrugada.
The word itself a feminine noun in the Spanish language – la madrugada – and this says everything about morning, its gentle and female nature. My mornings are often this way – feminine rather than masculine – and they come on soft and welcoming, the sun rising and the southwest sky brightening onto a lax and lovely blue.
Who have I become, a girl living in and clinging to cliché?
Do you hear the hum of my words, the low tone and the sweet letter “c” sound in cielo? Or do you lose interest when my sound lingers too long on the opening of “adobe,” a prayer sound, a word you have to feel more than understand? Let me give you more, let me tell you so that you may be convinced of this place, this place that is mine. Let me give you more words, more sound, more grammar of this place and of all that I am - tortillas, santo, retablo, Nana.
I am a daughter of the Great American Southwest. I have a crush on an Acoma man. And I cling to cliché as though it is as calming and curing as the sky itself.
These are the places I learned how to be – the bosque forest of the Rio Grande, the llano just below the Manzano Mountains, the miniature bottles of Importers from the convenience store on Highway 314 that is conveniently open 24 hours a day, so any loca can easily get her vodka fix as early in the morning as she needs. Such are the places I learned to be. But la madrugada always offers a chance to begin again. La madrugada is as much as adjective as she is a noun. La madrugada is a place I sit and re-imagine my life. La madrugada is a place and space of re-imagining.
What would I re-imagine if I could? What would I do, become, change?
On the six AM train a man is drunk, and he tries talking with a stranger who really doesn’t want to talk, but rather leans into the window of the commuter train, straining to ignore the eager drunk man. The drunk man’s voice is loud and proud as he describes drinking vodka and Sprite last night, and suddenly I relate to the drunkard in more ways than one. It is morning and he is still drunk. As the drunkard gets off at the Downtown station I look to the east where the sun is beginning to rise, residue of rain everywhere, the air still cool and clean. A cool morning, and a man crudo from Monday vodka. The day is already speaking to my soul in more ways than I can account for, and the sun is rising.
What I want is to color myself all stillness and earth. And I want to embrace morning – la madrugada - the way I embrace the re-imagining itself, like the laughter of an Acoma man, a coffee named Adobe, a life with without regrets, shrouded instead with feeling and hope, and wild wild love.
Author's statement: This piece was born of place and of title, and is really just that – a meditation on place and time –the morning, la madrugada. There is something about the word itself – la madrugada – that I was drawn to, and I wanted to explore the word and place itself. I wanted to adventure into that place that often eludes us, the start of a day, in all its common, in all its seemingly ordinary. Much of my writing begins this way, with a meditation rather than a telling.
Leeanna T. Torres is a native daughter of the American Southwest, with deep Indo-Hispanic roots in New Mexico. More recently, her essays have been featured in the New Mexico Review, Blue Mesa Review, and Tupelo Press Quarterly.