An excerpt from Stories from Mesa Country: They are coming back from the burial ground. I can see them walking, two abreast, along the narrow track by the wash. Tom has his head down, his hands in the pockets of his black suit. Beside him, Reverend Sherman is talking, waving his arms, trying, I'd guess, to comfort. Behind them come Enid and Faith, square shapes in best blue dresses, and then Seth and Arch, leggy as colts, uncomfortable in Sunday suits, in the shadow of tragedy. Now a space, long seconds passing before I see Luisa. She is alone, walking slowly. She is crying. I kw that, even from this distance, from my bed beside the window. She wipes her eyes on her apron. Her shoulders heave. She has been crying for three days. I wish I could shout so they could hear me. I wish the Reverend would go to her, assure her of her place in heaven and in our house. I wish one of them, Tom or the children, would take her by the arm, lead her home. Instead they act as if she is t there at all, perhaps thinking that if they igre her she will vanish and with her this house, these three days, the newly turned earth in the far field. Well, they are wrong. None of it will disappear. We'll live with it, tiptoe around it, make excuses and blame each other. And who is to blame? Tom, for coming here to homestead at the foot of the red rock mountains? For begetting children upon my body? Sons to inherit, daughters to marry? Or I, in my -- t incence, that's t the word I want -- my cocoon, my shroud of womanhood that brought me here, a continent away from home to wifehood, motherhood, acceptance of death as a part of life? Birth and death are what I see and take for granted. Life comes and goes with the seasons, with the years. There is a violence in this soil, in the people who labor on it. Perhaps it is only the truth of the earth, and one accepts it or goes down in defeat.
Jane Candia Coleman was the co-founder and Director of the Women's Creative Writing Center at Carlow College in Pittsburgh. Her No Roof But Sky won the Western Heritage Award for poetry in 1991, and Stories from Mesa Country won the Western Heritage Award for short stories in 1992. She lives on a ranch near Rodeo, New Mexico, and writes full time.