(text below)


Text: "Late summer, 1960. I am five years old and have been swatting flies with my brother on the asphalt siding of our Chicago house in the five o'clock sun. The sun brings the flies and I bring the flies to our turtles and other than this I don't have many cares in the world. Mostly, I like to walk along the railroad tracks that cross the next block, the train-hill I can look down from into other people's yards at the garages and corrugated sheds and rusted bicycles and the silos of the malt company. Up there I like to think about my uncles who are engineers on the B&O. I want to live like them when I grow up; I want to see places far away, the mountains and late western suns.

SANTA FE, 23 YEARS LATER: In an hour the Angelus will ring, casting a lull over the already closing evening town. It is almost autumn. The cottonwoods have lost their first shade of green; they are about to turn yellow with a cold wind and already leaves clatter in the streets besides my steps. The sky is crystal: rainbow-hued at the edges, clear and brittle in the middle. I pass the adobe houses stained in skin colors, etched with the coming and going of their men. Here the dirt paths become cobblestones and the cobblestones sidewalks and they dirt paths again, and everywhere buckled and heaving with tree roots. Here fences are bowed and swayed, nothing more than branches tied in rows with wire. It gives you a flannel-shirt feeling, one that is round-edged and red.
   In January the tin roofs and the rain spouts will have icicles in Santa Fe. In January at sunset the sky will turn the color of the town, and among the red walls and red walks and the roads filled with puddles of red mud splattered will be sapphire-set doors and windows of mailbox-blue, yawning the stillness deeper. Then in that red-failing light I will climb to a hill on the edge of town and find myself looking down on snow-covered yards and sheds and rusted bicycles, and across to the chapparal hills. The city will be quiet under me, and I will look down at my feet and find somehow that the years have not been there, that my rent and job and cares have not been there, and that I am still that boy. And I will walk away saying to myself over and over: I am that boy. I am that boy still..."

Jack Balas, from MileMarker


back to Photo Diptychs

back to Writing Page