A poet’s novel of the San Luis Valley

  • Rise, Do Not Be Afaid

 

Entering Colorado poet Aaron Abeyta’s first novel, Rise, Do Not Be Afraid, is like visiting a world that no longer exists — if it ever did. Santa Rita, the mythical Western town that forms the subject of this short, dense novel, is a place reminiscent of Eden, both before and after the Fall. One is reminded of Gabriel García Márquez’s fictional Colombian town, Macondo, as Abeyta creates a culture in a specific place and witnesses its dissolution — from greed, abandonment, the withering of love. Like García Márquez in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Abeyta begins with an annotated cast of characters, for it’s easy to confuse the people in this novel. Abeyta moves through time and generations as if through memory: “That was 1926,” when the fences were built, we are told in the same paragraph in which we have traveled even further back to the arrival of the treacherous Matthews family in 1878.

“Santa Rita sat in a long and deep canyon cut by an ancient river of ice, now melted to a river that flowed east toward the Rio Grande. There was no TV reception in Santa Rita. Most news traveled like it always had, by word of mouth.”

Author of the poetry collections colcha and as orion falls, Abeyta has written a novel that reads like narrative poetry, epic in subject, biblical in implication. Epigraphs from the Gospel of Luke begin most of the chapters, all unnumbered. “He Viewed the Town and Wept Over It” (Luke 19:41) commences with “Nineteen fifty-five was the last good year. Ponce sold in 1926, but the devil did not come into Santa Rita until New Year’s Eve, 1955.” Into this high desert paradise, the devil walks. He marries Malinche Santistevan-Matthews, lifelong beloved of Aresando, a damaged veteran. Love stories underlie the main narrative charting the rise and fall of Santa Rita, but the most compelling feature of Abeyta’s novel is the prose itself. Suffused with Spanish, it sings and mourns throughout.

“There in the sombra of the bosque he saw Rafael’s piano, he saw his tia Adelaida’s abandoned house beneath a bent cottonwood, Nonnatusia standing in a field of clover and brome, lirios purpling around her. ...”

Abeyta informs us: “It’s not true what they say: we are not made of bone and blood. Humans, all of us, are made of choices.”

Rise, Do Not Be Afraid
Aaron Abeyta
172 pages, softcover: $15.95.
Ghost Road Press, 2007.

High Country News Classifieds
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Executive Director Position Announcement POSITION TITLE: Executive Director ORGANIZATION: Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument REPORTING TO: Board of Directors EMPLOYMENT TYPE: Part-time - Full-time, based...
  • HEALTHY CITIES PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Healthy Cities Program Director leads and manages the Healthy Cities Program for the Arizona Chapter and is responsible for developing and implementing innovative, high...
  • CONSERVATION PROGRAM MANAGER
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) Conservation Programs Manager Job Opening Our Mission: Honoring the past and safeguarding the future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) Associate Director Job Posting Our Mission: Honoring the past and safeguarding the future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through science,...
  • UNIQUE, ENERGY-EFFICIENT HOME ON ACREAGE NEAR MOSCOW, IDAHO
    Custom-built energy-efficient 3000 sqft two-story 3BR home, 900 sqft 1 BR accessory cottage above 2-car garage and large shop. Large horse barn. $1,200,000. See online...
  • OUTDOOR ADVENTURE BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Missoula Outdoor Learning Adventures (MOLA) - established and profitable outdoor adventure & education business in Missoula, Montana. Summer camp, raft & climb guide, teen travel,...
  • OJO SARCO FARM/HOME
    A wonderful country setting for a farm/work 1350s.f. frame home plus 1000 studio/workshop. 5 acres w fruit trees, an irrigation well, pasture and a small...
  • STEWARDSHIP COORDINATOR
    Join Skagit Land Trust (the Trust), a not-for-profit conservation organization based in Mount Vernon, Washington, and help protect land for people and wildlife. Skagit Land...
  • 2022 SEASONAL SCIENCE EDUCATOR
    The Mount St. Helens Institute Science Educator supports our science education and rental programs including day and overnight programs for youth ages 6-18, their families...
  • POLICY DIRECTOR
    Heart of the Rockies Initiative is seeking a Policy Director to lead and define policy efforts to advance our mission to keep working lands and...
  • CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
    Self-Help Enterprises seeks an experienced and strategic CFO
  • CONSERVATION SPECIALIST - LAND PROTECTION FOCUS
    View full job description and how to apply at
  • RIVER EDUCATOR & GUIDE
    River Educator & Guide River Educator & Guide (Trip Leader) Non-exempt, Seasonal Position: Full-time OR part-time (early April through October; may be flexible with start/end...
  • LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    The Land and Water Conservation Director is a full-time salaried position with the Mountain Area Land Trust in Evergreen, CO. The successful candidate will have...
  • FOOD SYSTEMS ENVIRONMENTAL FELLOWSHIP
    If you were to design a sustainable society from the ground up, it would look nothing like the contemporary United States. But what would it...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) is seeking an Executive Director who will lead RiGHT toward a future of continued high conservation impact, organizational...
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    Help protect Montana's water quality, family farms and ranches, & unique quality of life. Work hard, meet good people, make the world a better place!...
  • VERDE RIVER PROJECTS TECHNICIAN
    The Verde River Projects Technician (VRPT) provides technical assistance to Verde River Program staff in implementation of the Verde River Streamflow Monitoring Protocol. This consist...
  • 8 FIELD PROJECT SPECIALISTS (POSITION FORMERLY TITLED TRAIL CREW TECHNICAL ADVISOR)
    Are you passionate about environmental conservation and connecting people to the outdoors? The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) is looking for someone with outdoor leadership...
  • SOUTHWEST REWILDING ADVOCATE
    WildEarth Guardians is seeking a full-time advocate in our Wild Places Program to advance a new paradigm of forest management and protection based on the...