Harrison Fletcher joined the Department of English last fall as an assistant professor of creative writing. He is also the author of Descanso for My Father: Fragments of a Life, a memoir in essays about his journey to know the father he lost when he was nearly two. Descanso, which means resting place in Spanish, recently won the 2013 Colorado Book Award in Creative Nonfiction and the 2013 Independent Book Publisher Bronze Medal. His work has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies including New Letters, Fourth Genre and The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction, which selected his essay, “Beautiful City of Tirzah,” as among 50 outstanding works since 1970. He is also the founding editor of Shadowbox literary journal.
Below is an excerpt from Descanso For My Father: Fragments Of A Life. Congratulations to Professor Fletcher on his esteemed recognition!
A postcard. A faded, wrinkled, colorized street shot of downtown Albuquerque in the rosy afterglow of World War II. `Indian Country,’ the back caption says. Glossy black sedans crawl like desert beetles along Route 66. The adobe façade of the Franciscan Hotel rises from the dust like an Anasazi ruin. On the south side of the street, between a typewriter shop and a flower stand, hangs a faded green sign with white block letters – Fletcher Drugs, my father’s pharmacy.
The image is my family’s only record of the landmark. My oldest sister found it in an antique store shoebox while browsing artifacts with our mother. I borrowed it, stole it, really, because we’re all stingy with his things, because there aren’t enough to go around.
Alone at night, thirty years after my father’s funeral, I study the image like a tarot card. The red Texaco star. The yellow road stripes pointing east. The black silhouette on the sidewalk outside the drug store – the man in a fedora. I can’t make out the face. It’s hidden in shadow. But I can see this much – he’s looking forward, into the camera, at me.
To read more about Harrison Fletcher and Descanso for My Father: Fragments of a Life visit his website here.
Written by Denise Johnson