Tributes P4

"Sheltering the Creative Spirit"

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Taos, New Mexico USA




                                         Photo by Robert Kostka

                                        click image for enlargement




                                                     by Robert Kostka

Late one afternoon we walked in Frank's back meadow to take some portraits.  The setting Sun threw a hot orange light over everything, causing the meadow to seem to vibrate.  We took many portraits; the thin blue line of smoke rising from Frank's cigarillo cutting through the hot orange.  (Several of these portraits have been used on dust jackets or for publicity purposes.)  Suddenly I became aware that the setting Sun itself was also a vibrating hot orange disc, and excitedly photographed it.  Frank gently tapped my shoulder saying, "There's another one over here . . ."  I turned to the opposite direction and there over Wheeler Peak was a full Moon, also a glowing orange.  My camera was too small to catch the two Suns, or was it the two Moons?

One of these portraits showed Frank posed against a fence post, the thin line of smoke was back-lit, and out-of-focus red willows were behind him to his right.  The Taos Indians call themselves "People of the Red Willows."  Shortly afterwards a black and white version was printed in the Taos paper.  About then I met Joan Hightower, known in Santa Fe as "the poet laureate of Canyon Road."  Now living in Taos, she was anxious to meet me as I had taken "a spirit photograph" of Frank.

Her mood changed dramatically when she realized I didn't quite understand what she was talking about.  Handing me the newspaper she snapped, "Don't you see it?"  I hesitated, so she pointed to the space above and to the left of Frank's head.  "I guess you don't have to be very bright to take one . . . see the lion's head?"  There it was . . . a male lion's head among the willows.  Once you see it, you'll always see it.  She didn't have to point out that Frank's astrological sign is Leo, the lion.

This same photo session revealed yet another hidden aspect of Frank.  Several times the camera caught a look in his eyes, and the eyebrows took on a sharp broken line.  It was the louche look of the coyote . . . the Trickster!  Frank's only comment said through a smile was, "You've learned my secret."

That look of the Trickster surfaced again several years later.  John Manchester had a mural painted on his adobe wall by Trinidad Archuleta of Taos Pueblo.  It had all the elements and themes of Frank's The Man Who Killed The Deer, showing deer being hunted, their hunters, all under the large image of the Deer Mother.  This beautiful mural has since been destroyed.  The forms were delicate yet strong, with an ethereal quality that spoke of the Great Mysteries.  I posed him against the mural.  Only later, after making the first prints from those negatives, was I aware of the return of that coyote Trickster look.  Perhaps that was the missing element from the mural itself.


  Robert Kostka photo 1969


The Walk to the Upper Pasture
For Barbara
In Memory of Frank
Our shoulders soaked in sunshine,
our feet in the cold, water-swollen grass,
we pick our way slowly
across to the higher tufts
then back to the path, sinking
anyway, and not caring.

All around us the trees are talking,
you had said, listening
to the cottonwoods,
the grove of sacred aspen.

Especially the old oak -- our goal
in the upper pasture where
the ashes, two weeks without rain,
encircle the trunk in a formal act
of completion -- is eloquent.

It says: Listen.  I am here
I am rooted.  I will last for as long
as you will need me.

It says: Listen to me.  Give up
your pain to the wind.
What is past is here,
but the future is the wind
that sings in me and everywhere.

Even you will sing again.

     Imogene Bolls



"Encino -- Oak Tree"

(In remembrance of my friend and neighbor Frank Waters.)    

        My companion for years I would sit in your shade,

        Enjoying the wonderful scenery creator had made.

        You nurtured my body as I sat at your foot.

        I now offer my spirit to nurture your roots,

        So that I may travel through -- to your Branches most high

        And be released in the Breeze, spirit never can die,

        That a soft wind may carry me to the mountains above,

        And offer my spirit to this land that I love,

        That the rains would return me back down to your foot,

        And again I could nurture your life- giving roots.

        Encino my friend we never can die; we give each other life, so it's never good-bye,

        And to all of my friends back here on earth,

        My spirit will watch over you each springtime's new birth.

        As I continue my Journey with spirit most high,

        To join with creator up there in the sky.                             

       Pablo Quintana  


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