I drove through a fairly thick fog recently on my way out to the Plains Conservation Center to lead a naturalist walk, and it reminded me of a trip my son Al and I took one day years ago. I was in Socorro, NM, for a meeting at New Mexico Tech, and Al drove up from El Paso where he was working as a field geologist doing remediation work at a refinery there.
One of Al's favorite books during his undergraduate days was The Making of the Atomic Bomb, and it turned out that the weekend we were in Socorro was one of two weekends each year when the AEC opens the Trinity Site to visitors. We drove out there and were both in awe of the history of the place where we stood. I took some photos which I've since lost, but Al has framed on his wall at his home in Casper.
When we left the Trinity Site, we drove into fog and decided to climb up to the west of Socorro onto the Plain of San Augustin to the Very Large Array, a series of 27 radio telescopes that was featured in the Jodi Foster movie Contact way back in 1997. We drove up in fog through Magdalena Gap onto the high plateau and were still in fog. Anyway that thought triggered a poem in my mind that I've been working on and probably still needs some tweaks.
And then, as if by some sort of influence of the stars, I recently read a poem that talked about a son's voice breaking as he tried to sing, a sort of first sign of that terrible affliction called puberty. It reminded me of that time in Al's life. So I sat down and worked out a poem about that time in Al's life. Some sweet nostalgia for me here.
brought back a memory of my son when
he sang in a middle school musical.
His voice was pure and clear and high.
He sang a minor part, but sang it well.
from visiting family, we would play
a tape of the Nylons, a male group with
one voice that reached falsetto highs.
My son could sing there with him.
and at the point when we would quit
and our son would sing up the ladder
of notes, his voice faltered. We knew
the age of innocence was behind him.