Teresita Psalms: Saint of Cabora Texts


Lots of readers/fans and a few scholars have written to me over the past year asking for some insight into thde background of my novel, THE HUMMINGBIRD'S DAUGHTER. (And, I suppose, its sequel, coming next year from Little, Brown.) Although I do have piles and stacks and shelves full of rsearch, and I suspect the longest Teresita Urrea bibliography ever compiled, I don't think that's what people are after. People want stories. Some want revelations of spiritual secrets, some want adventure, some want writing tips and some just want to hear juicy yarns. And lots of you want to hear my ghost stories! I'm that way, too. Gimme a story, man.

I have suggested you check out the second volume of THE HUMMINGBIRD REVIEW (on stands and on the internet). It's a fine new lit journal. It has a long essay about all that stuff; I wrote it for a chapbook a few years ago. It's called "Haunted Arizona." You might like it.

Here's somethimng dear to my heart for ya. Cinderella can tell you that, in the deepest darkest era of working on that book, in the Arizona heat in my sad little adobe after ghosts and boogies had chased me out of my original old barrio digs, my mind was so fried that I couldn't even read. Enter haiku. I could read haiku.

So in honor of that salvation, I wrote a record of writing HUMMINGBIRD in haiku form. (OK--some of them were senryu...but why niggle?) It came out in the SONORA REVIEW, Vol. 56. For those of you who missed it, here it is.


Notes on Writing The Hummingbird's Daughter in Tucson

Despairing of God
I went to the desert
to seek my own saint.
Haunted adobe--
candelabra's melting stubs
wax that fell was black.
If I went downstairs,
heard kitchen racket overhead--
nobody else there.
Disembodied hand
tarantula-crawled across
white shee to my face.
Medicine woman
cooking her green tamales
held me when I wept.
My teacher too ke
to ask questions of the plants--
I felt like a child.
Halloween midnight
one wrecked car blocking the road--
single human leg.
One box Minute Rice--
one old cat, half dead, half blind--
abandoned to trust.
Yaqui funeral--
old man in his black coffin
colder than the moon.
First monsoon morning--
I finally saw miracles--
frogs leaped from the ground.
Female medium
insited spirits told her--
I'd signed questionnaire.
Tinajas Altas--
couldn't find any water,
someone left a can.
After the car wreck
100 trucks drove over
the children's clothing.
At old copper mine
pondering the day's lessons
coyotes stalked me.
The angry scholar
called to threaten a lawssuit
if I wrote the book.
She said we were twins
sepatared in heaven--
did I want to aprty?
The Hotel Congress
was still a holy vortex--
Dillinger slept there.
Down in Mexico
the curanderas fed me
bowls of green Jell-O.
Teresita's niece
wakes up on certain mornings
floating in the air.
Standing in graveyards
in Clifton, Arizona--
thought I might find her.
"I'm their worst nightmar!"
he said in his adobe--
"Liberal with guns!"
Medicine woman
said she missed grandmother's ghost
since it left with me.
The saint's grand-daughter
heals families in Phoenix--
danced for Dean Martin.
Holy woman said,
"In heaven you'll have a job!"
Shaking her finger.
When down to nothing
the spirits bring miracles--
one dollar Whopper.
Hiking Sheep Pen trail
vulture flew up behind me--
my shadow grew wings.
Mostly it was work
alone on old computer--
Nine Inch Nails at night.
I learned something there
From The Saint of Cabora--
Every day's sacred.


Jackie Morris (not verified)

Your book The Hummingbird's Daughter is so beautiful with its lilting lists and wonderful characters. And your blog is wonderful too.
I just wanted to say a big thank you. And also for the knowledge that Teresita's neice wakes up floating.

dragon (not verified)

oh yes, Luis, every day is sacred.


Luz Nuncio Schick (not verified)


Como siempre, gracias, Luis.

el poquito (not verified)

Thanks for 'showing' - revealing what you've said about HD being thousands of haiku strung together. Reading HD and now these haiku, gives me the same feeling I've had the day after 10 foot waves on Lake Superior is followed by the lake calmed down to as still as glass.

Gracias for this teaching.

White Eagle (not verified)

mmm hmmmmmm.


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Book club members have been some of my most enthusiastic and careful readers. I’m thrilled to share my work with you, answer your questions and tell you some of the stories behind the stories. This is our spot, just for us. Here, we can chat:  If I’m nearby, I’ll come and visit your club. Otherwise, we can Skype, talk over the phone or email. Sometimes, I’ll send surprises or hold contests.

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