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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,

vigilant,

.

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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