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Fred Maus: New Mexico, Devisadero Loop


We walked together six hours,

uphill from the road

to the wooden sign at the trailhead,

then up the trail,


straining to breathe thin air,

thinking about our legs

and our lungs, wondering whether

the whole long hike


would hurt like the beginning.

Wary, we kept our eyes

on the path. I’m older than Teco.

I lost my breath


again and again. We would

stop, and hug each other,

and then climb further.

After a while


we started to feel better,

alert, inquisitive, amidst

the yellow dirt, short dark twisted

pines, small creamy


flowers, waist-high cactus

with amber fruits, more cactus

growing close to the ground,

pine-scented air.


We saw lapis-blue scrub jays,

little lizards, dragonflies,

magpies flashing black and white.

We saw deer shit


and other shit that we didn’t

recognize. Was it the scat of

mountain lions, coyotes,

bears, bobcats?


Paused in a sunny clearing,

my attention charmed by

a tiny gray-green bush, its

warm red blossoms


glowing near the yellow soil –

staring at it through

the camera, I sat down firmly

on a prickly pear.


Teco knelt down and took

a photo of the back of my

jeans, and then for five minutes

pulled needles out;


then I dropped my pants and he

pulled out more spines, tenderly,

one by one, laughing. We hoped

no one would see us.


Above, the sky was deep blue,

like the jays, but there were clouds

all around the horizon,

and far-off storms,


with their gray daubs

of wet from the cloud to the ground.

Soon we would see lightning

and hear thunder.


The long trail fooled us,

as we reached the top

of what seemed like the highest place,

the half-way point,


a place to stop and ponder

as we looked far down

into the valley, where the mesa

tilted upward


toward us as it receded

to the horizon. We paused,

gazed out, and then, as we

kept on walking,


somehow the trail continued

higher – one peak, and then

a second peak, and then once more

a new high point,


this one Devisadero

itself, the real turning point

of the trail, after which we

walked back down,


now through different land,

dank in the shadow of tall

pines, musty. Here we found

a haughty crow –


we heard it first, before we

saw it, resting on the tip

of the tallest pine tree,



taking account of all that it

could see in all directions,

cawing from time to time.

We crept closer.


Finally we were

at the bottom of its tree, looking

up, I cawed at the crow.

Seemingly it


ignored me, still peering

around for a moment,

then it raised its wings slowly

and flapped away.


Thunder, loud, uncomfortable,

gorgeous, sounded all around us,

and with the storm clouds, it was

starting to get


dark. We felt uncertain, and

we talked about the information

I had read online – “How to Deal with

Large Predators” –


and without mentioning it

to each other, we both

wondered when we would be

back at the car.


The landscape transformed again,

back to yellow soil

and sparse, gnarled trees. A flock of jays

screeched together,


excited, and as raindrops

began to come, a red-tailed

hawk flew straight toward us, and then

caught the wind and


stopped, hovered twenty feet above,

looking down as we looked up. It rested there,

contemplating us for a long moment,

then it wheeled,


still riding the wind, and

wafted, tranquil, out of sight.

We held its attention, and

then we didn’t.


Then it was really raining. It was

dark. We walked on slippery

mud and shiny wet rocks. We

drove back to Taos.

copyright 2015 Fred Maus

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This entry was posted on June 24, 2015 by in Poetry and tagged , , , , , .

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