Antonito to Chama

June could hardly hold a wind in Antonito.
Rock embedded 'neath our nails,
Our fingers more like dynamite then dexterous.
None of us could tell the difference from our skin and the dirt.
It didn’t matter a skin color,
We were all men
Layin' the same line.
The dust I coughed was no different than the next man.
The sun does not discriminate,
We all cooked.
I got paid good for that work.
I struck iron stakes into railroad ties from sun to moon.
Hydrated with whiskey after the whistle sound in Osier.
Dreamt of easier livin’,
Somewhere flat.
That gorge claimed better and lesser souls by the dozen.
But this was the West.
We blasted the sides off them mountain hills,
Slid rocks into ‘blivion.
We pulverized our way into Chama.
Man can conquer mountains,
Spread himself all over creation.
Here to the kingdom.

But we traveled alone
Faceless amongst each other.
Sure we knew names,
But never really spoke true,
About dreams or nothin’ else.
A silent family bound by work and circumstance.
None of us prayed.
But somehow we knew what God was.
I’d never admit to seein’ Him.
Or even knowin’ what to look for.
He was always there though.
That thunder rumbled and we knew what wrath was.
Lost bodies in rain with eyes.
Sought out each and every one of us sinners.
Either spooked us or took us.
But no one. Ever. Prayed.

We all died tighter then wire.
Stiff hands and eyes squinted at the sun.
Our mouths wider than the tunnels we dug.
Darker, too.
Silent. Without a word.

Edward Doughert is a teacher, poet and ponderer from Taos, New Mexico. Pedaled his bike from Taos to Chama over the San Juan Mountains just to write this poem. Last night he dreamt of empty wine bottles banging his hollow skull. He woke with a hangover.


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