Seven Places in America

by Miriam Sagan

Tim Prythero
mixed media, 1988
The trailer is pale blue and white
With pink striped awnings, a pink flamingo
On the door. Saguaro cactus with an owl in the yard
And a Madonna in a blue stucco shell
Or an inverted bathtub.
A kitschy statue of a boy in a sombrero
Pulls a burro…this is the border
But between what and where?
I admire the “American” trailer as always
Next to the Women’s Room at the Albuquerque airport
My usual point of departure
This time for Fort Lauderdale, where I’ll sleep
At a Ramada lit by tiki torches
Fake Polynesian effect around the pool
Where plastic flowers entwine
With real multivariegated leaves
And dreams border on the subtropics.
I had house guests, once,
Who wanted to see “the real” city of Santa Fe
Which they’d heard had gotten fake
By real, they meant the old fake, not the new—
Fred Harvey thunderbird designs in silver
Or rugs woven, pots painted, for the tourist trade
But old enough so the motive fades
And makes an image of the authentic.
They didn’t mean they wanted to see the “real real” city
Of gang graffiti, drunk drivers, or my usual trips
To the orthodontist or Ross Dress for Less.
And at Jackalope—Folk Art by the Truckload—
They were confused
By my enthusiasm
Pulling out of a cluttered bin
A necklace of tiny plastic birds and animals
With a “carved” turquoise plastic bear
And my delight—look!
Fake Zuni jewelry!
I bought the fake and hung it on my neck
I’d always wanted a fake fetish necklace
Made in Asia.
I was at Zuni once
Before Easter, in the rain
The hornos were steaming in the plaza
Smoke filled the air
Streets ran mud, and I did buy
Inlaid turquoise and silver, a dragonfly
Concrete and yet approximate
Like any souvenir.