At an opening in our art gallery during the mid-eighties, I met a nice young
married couple. They were in their twenties or so, and I’m sure of that.
People smiled at the sight of them walking around, holding hands, and
munching on the finger things we had near the wine cooler. In subsequent
weeks I saw them infrequently around town, whispering to each other, and
holding hands, a sure sign of impending problems.
I don’t remember her name, so for some subliminal reason probably, I’ll call
her Angel. She was walking toward me one day as I departed the bank on
Palace Avenue. Her eyes were red, her hair was a gnarling muddle, and she
was sobbing uncontrollably. I was startled.
When we stopped to talk, and as she smeared a hankie across her face, she
explained what a bad person her ex-husband was and that she would never
recover from what he did to her. “It’s been two months, you know.” No, I
didn’t know, but that was okay.
After a long coffee respite at the Plaza Cafe, her emotions subsided
somewhat. I learned that Angel was a professional potter who was trying to
support herself in a failing market. I felt terrible, and wondered what I
could do to help.
Finally, it came to me. I told her to go make her divorce in the form of a
pot, “because we’re going to have a funeral.” She started laughing and
hugged me, then laughed and hugged me some more. The spell of doom was
broken and she hurried away to her studio.
Well, ten days later I was digging a hole at the north end of room block two
at San Lazaro Pueblo. It was beside a pre-historic path that led down to the
clay mine. Angel was sniffling into her hankie. It had been an awkward
forty-five minute drive as I had tried desperately to concentrate on the
She had made the ugliest pottery thing I have ever seen. It was about 18″
high, 10″ across, and it reeked with dismal black figures that had sharp
edges. The iron nails that she had driven periodically around that poor jar
had been mostly destroyed and were crumbling as a result of the
high-temperature firing. Angel had written her ex’s name in big black
letters, but I am sure it was misspelled. “Ferd,” it said. I wondered what
that was all about.
After she threw some things into the pot, I put the lid on, placed it
reverently into the ground, and covered it up with dirt. Then she started
piling rocks on the grave. She kept piling them on. I suppose maybe she was
afraid that somehow her divorce would get out of the hole.
Leaving her alone to conduct the funeral, I walked back to wait in the car.
Well, I’ve never heard such carrying on. It was so loud! There was yelling
and sobbing and singing, and screaming maledictions. She spit out a few
words, the definitions of which I was not cognizant. During one loud scream
I heard the word “Fred,” and I think the blossoms started falling from a
nearby cholla cactus. I quickly rolled my car windows up.
Twenty minutes later, we were driving home. Angel was giggling and her hair
looked nice. All of a sudden she rolled the window down, threw her hankie
out, and looked at me. She just looked at me and smiled. That’s all! Wow,
once in a while I do something really good. f