The Story Of Antonio's 'Ultima'

Submitted By kshufford
Words: 548
Pages: 3

Writing as an adult, Antonio Márez recounts events that occur when he was six years old. Ultima, an elderly curandera, or healer, comes to live with his family. The night before Ultima’s arrival, Antonio lies in his bed in the little attic above his mother’s kitchen. He hears his parents talking about Ultima. His father, Gabriel, says that Ultima is old, and though she has served the people as a healer her entire life, she has now been reduced to living alone out on the llano, the great New Mexico grassland near Antonio’s home. Antonio knows that his father is a vaquero, a cowboy, and loves the wildness of the llano, while his mother, María, is from the Luna family, who are all farmers, and prefers civilization. Long ago, María convinced Gabriel to move to the town of Guadalupe so that their children could have an education, and Gabriel still misses the life on the open plains of the llano.

Antonio is happy that his parents have decided to take Ultima into their home and to provide for her. As he drifts off into sleep, he has a dream in which he floats over the hills of the llano to the village of Las Pasturas and toward the window of a lighted hut. There, a woman is in labor, and Antonio recognizes that he is witnessing his own birth. After the baby Antonio is born, his mother’s brothers arrive and declare that he will be a Luna and perhaps become a priest. His father’s brothers declare that he will continue their tradition of restless wandering on the llano. Each family wishes to dispose of the afterbirth according to their family traditions: the Lunas seek to bury it in the earth, while the vaqueros seek to burn it and scatter the ashes across the open plains. Ultima halts the ensuing disagreement by stating that she will bury the afterbirth herself. She declares that only she will know Antonio’s destiny.

Antonio is anxious the next morning. He knows that he will soon begin school, and he is