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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 4, December 2018
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Tish Davis
Concord Township, Ohio, USA


While Looking for Saddle Mountain

the plane's descent
over folded mountains,
through the calm of sky
all those times I held my kids' hands
so they wouldn't fall

Mountains surround Monterrey. Whenever business travel brings me to this Mexican city, an armed security driver meets me at the airport. After settling in his vehicle, I scan the skyline. I always look for Cerro de la Silla, Saddle Mountain. This is the mountain, in a story my driver told, that a teacher asked her class to draw. "Wrong," said the teacher to the boy whose saddle was reversed. But the saddle wasn't backward according to the boy. He'd spent most of his life on the mountain's other side.

every time
I spot the mountain
a cleansing breath
then a slow release of air . . .
I could never draw this

On the way to Guadalupe, my driver's unexpected slowdown redirects my gaze. We've pulled up behind a crudely built horse-drawn cart. It's made from rough-cut wooden planks loosely nailed together. A makeshift net—oddly shaped and affixed to the back—holds sun-dried sticks and a few short lengths of wood no longer suitable for construction. As the horse continues with the load, the net twists and bumps against bare wood. Familiar only with the craftsmanship of Ohio's Amish, who use horses for transportation and farming, I ask my security driver, "What’s that?"

found nails
pounded into warped wood,
net knots no longer square . . .
a peasant hauling hope
and focused on the road

As we change lanes and begin to pass, I focus on this other driver. He's sitting on cardboard and uses the fine bones in his wrists to adjust the reins. In his mobile wooden world, every bit of moisture has been taken away—the fading severe and uneven. He turns once and looks at me. I see the sun's hot knife, those places where it's melted the ends of his wrinkled lines.

I don't have any pesos. Even if I did, I wouldn't be allowed to open the window.

that sun-bleached horse
pulling a rickety cart
along the hot pavement
all windows rolled up
in these air-conditioned cars

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