I’m at the plaza in old Mesilla. I’m usually alone here at this time of morning, practicing with the birds.
There is an old church here. This is Sunday and so the faithful are arriving. A man comes from within the church. He stands near the door and greets each person as they arrive. He shakes hands and holds the door for each.
He has a Styrofoam cup in one hand, and when no one is approaching he leans against the wall with one leg cocked back and the heel of his boot on the wall.
I start to leave the plaza, and as I do he whistles loudly. I look at him to see if he means me, but his gaze is somewhere behind me across the plaza. I continue, and he whistles again – loudly. This time he shouts out to someone in the distance. He holds his free hand high in the peace sign and shouts – Peace be with you, ladies! Take care!
I’ve seen him around town. I’ve seen him in a coffee shop – trying to hold the door for people. I’ve never seen him in company with anyone. I don’t see anyone take notice of him.
Here’s where I begin a fabrication. I’m going to make a story for this man I’ve never met.
I’m reading his story from a distance.
He is a man of limited worldly resource and limited understanding, in the usual way of reckoning such things. He carries himself in a manner of self-effacement or even servility. He drifts about the village looking to all the world to be a man with nothing to do. He’s only partly visible.
Do I have my facts straight?
I can’t say.
To be understood is to be visible. If I make up a story about the man in the plaza, am I trying to see him or or am I trying to see myself?
I don’t know how to answer that.
I find him one morning and offer him a cup of coffee. I say to him that he should cease his wandering and stop his shouting at strangers.
he says to me…
Do you think that I need to be shown a better way?
How do you see me?
Do you see me as your twin in our confused and contradictory depth…
or… do you see me as your work?