``We had come very far from the land of our dreams,'' muses one of the characters in this deft volume of nine stories. ``Each of us, in some tiny, fractured way, would always be homesick.'' This first collection explores, in a variety of settings (many in the modern Southwest), the efforts of baffled, decent men to recover something of the mysterious power and presence of women they have loved and lost, whether wives, siblings, or mothers. Mayo (English/Univ. of Southwestern Louisiana) has a distinct talent for catching in terse, precise tales the way in which loss shapes our lives and imaginations. An impressive debut.