Descanso for My Father: Fragments of a Life
When his father died, Harrison Candelaria Fletcher wasn?t quite two. His mother packed up his father?s belongings, put the boxes in a hall closet, and closed the door. The ?man in a box? remained a mystery, hardly mentioned, and making only rare appearances in stories when Fletcher or his siblings inquired. Meanwhile, his young Hispanic mother transformed herself into an artist, scouting the back roads and secondhand shops of New Mexico for relics and unlikely treasures to add to her ?little shrines,? or descansos. ?Look closely,? she?d say to her son. ?Everything tells a story.?
This book is Fletcher?s literary descanso, a piecing together?from moments and objects and words?of a father?s life, of the life lived without that father, and of his own mixed-race identity. Fletcher?s reflections unfold like a collage, offering a rich array of images and stories of life with his single mother, organizing weekend family car trips to explore graveyards and adobe ruins; of growing up on the fault lines of class and culture; of being a father who never had one of his own to learn from. From incidents and observations, Fletcher assembles a beautifully crafted portrait of his family?s unspoken affliction with loss over the decades, a portrait that finally evokes the father at its heart.
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acequia adobe afternoon Albuquerque asks baby beneath Berry beside black widow spiders black-and-white blue bowl breath brother brown can’t chamisal Chicano church Civil Air Patrol close Confluence Park Corrales cottonwoods cross crucifix dark descanso Desolina died dining room ditch bank door Ernestina eyes face father father’s feel fingers flicks floor gaze glass grandfather grandmother grass gray hair hall closet hand hardwood Harrison He’d head hold I’ve inside Jemez Mountains kids kitchen leans light living room look married middle sister Moines morning mother says mother’s never night owl’s pachucos pi˝on porch pull Pushcart Prize reach ring Rio Puerco roadside Route 66 sand shadow she’d shirt shoulder siblings silver skin slide slipped smile smoke stand stone tell things Tirzah told turn uncle votive candles walls watch whispers wife window woman yellow