← Issue 3

A Pilgrim’s Guide to Dusk at Eubank and Juan Tabo Blvds, NE, Albuquerque

By Julia Bilek

Heading south on Eubank,
you may be stopped
at the red light
where Juan Tabo Blvd dead ends.
On the left, Mykonos Café & Tavern
(low-key Greek bar & eatery: 4.2 stars);
if you reach Smith’s (grocery store: 4.1 stars),
you’ve gone too far.

At Eubank and Juan Tabo,
facing south, two unnamed
mountains align
in the distance: same shape,
smaller in the foreground,
larger directly behind.
Noon bleaches them into
low volcanic desert features
over which the Sandia Mountains preside.

At dusk, however, when darkness lengthens,
reaches across the distant peaks,
it is clear that shadowing and shadowed
mountains form a gateway
to the world beyond.

At dusk on Eubank at Juan Tabo,
the car radio will fade,
your heartbeat will slow. Still,
the gateway is unapproachable:
you are on a road through Chaco Canyon
leading to the sun.

At dusk on Eubank at Juan Tabo,
you do what the ancients did:
find a crest from which to dash
your pottery across ancestral lands,
submit your shards to the dead.

There is no pilgrim’s path
marking Eubank and Juan Tabo,
and no aerial view of the desert
will show two mountains aligned.
Only by chance will you stop
at that red light past sunset
and in the passing shadows
will the sacred landscape appear.
Mark that moment in memory,
pen a star on your map:
only now, only here.


Julie Bilek is in the Creative Writing and Environment MFA program at Iowa State University. Her focus is on the social construction of space, and she writes creative nonfiction and poetry that draws on her backgrounds in anthropology, religious studies, and art history.

The Roadrunner Review nominated “A Pilgrim’s Guide to Dusk at Eubank and Juan Tabo Blvds, NE, Albuquerque” for the 2020 Best of the Net.