By Gerald Hausman
Santa Fe, NM, USA

Cedella Marley once said to me, “No one is beyond redemption.”

I believe this to be true but here we are, far from Cedella and tropical palms in a world of whirling snow in northern New Mexico. Then it seems the sky has fallen and we are driving through Hell’s half acre of mad, malevolent mist, and then a whiteout, the kind you see in movies.

There are four of us—a husky dog named Raven, a Blue-fronted Amazon parrot named George, and Lorry and me. 
Gerald Hausman

I can see no more than six feet in front of me. The Subaru I am driving follows the tracks of a farm truck that passed some time ago.

The tracks are faint. I train my eye on them and hold the Subaru to the same course.

The parrot, usually talking a mile a minute, is quiet. He sees the urgency of the situation from his backseat perch. What is that white stuff out there? Where are we going? What strange beasts dwell in the nothingness of skirling pellets from the sky? What sky?

There is no sky. There is no ground, no earth. This is pure white-out somewhere between dream and drown. The storm converges at a point of diminished light and dark so that everything mirrors everything in soft insistent glare. The world around us, the world of visible objects – trees and tracks – shuts down.

Endless emptiness swallows the Subaru.

We pass an ancient sign which says Las Dispensas. I catch, in the corner of my eye, the bare and broken heads of graves. Then they are gone and we are again in the void. The windshield is hit by a flurry of graveyard flakes. The unseasonable snow returns double-force.

Lorry, hidden in her wool scarf, says, “When is this going to be over?”

I answer, “I don’t know but it seems like a life sentence, doesn’t it?”

“You mean a death sentence.”

Las Dispensas, the last words on this pilgrimage, mean: “forgotten, forgiven, free.” We have driven through graves of cold hell, trapped in zones of dream. We are drinking a dram of dream, a dream of dram. We are condemned to the ice-cuffs of winter and it is April.

Words of woe trick my brain as I drive. Hunched, trying desperately to see more than it’s possible to see, I strain my eyes to see anything. But there is nothing out there but whiteness and death.

I think back to a time when I was once arrested somewhere near this place. I was a boy at the time. A boy in love with a girl, the same girl who is with me now. We were camping somewhere near in Rociada, the Basque backwoods beyond time. And now we are back there, handcuffed in a different way. Floating in All-Wheel Drive. Suspended in time. In the same protracted limbo as Odysseus. Or the Hermit of Hermit’s Peak, who is really somewhere near here. The old monk’s begging bowl still there in the sanctuary cave that he inhabited more than a hundred years ago.

Now, as it seems, we are going to meet him. We are crossing the River Lethe. We are dead, and yet, alive. Seeing and breathing in the burned-out billows of failing light, the whole world is one smoking white emptiness.

I remember Cedella’s words once again: “No one is beyond redemption.”

Redeem us back to the old road of the familiar. Adobe churches three hundred years old. Windowless houses made of mud.  

Suddenly a cloudburst of sparrows.

A smudge-grey wandering horse of no concern stumbling into the road.

Gold eyes staring out of pine thickets.

A mountain lion gnawing a deer’s foot.

A three-legged dog.

The snow stops, the night turns.

The heavens open – daylight.

Our parrot in the backseat makes a questionable croak: “Is it so?”

There will be red wine and a warm fire up ahead.

Redemption is near at hand.

I stop and write a poem on the back of an Allstate envelope.

        Winter magpies on the path
         to silent spring where seasons melt
         hummers sing at the golden feeder,
         honey warms the hesitant heart.

Now we are at the ranch house on the river and I am writing this. The sun is somewhere. We feel we have died and been reborn. We feel we have been forgotten, forgiven, and are free once again.

(Gerald Hausman photo credit: Mariah Fox)


Gerald Hausman is an award-winning, bestselling author and a regular contributor to Stay Thirsty Magazine. His latest book, Little Miracles – A Memoir, will be released in the Summer of 2019.

All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.