On Interstate 10, I drive through miles of creosote brush broken only by dry creek beds. I exit to Balmorhea. On the left, San Solomon Springs, once called Mescalaro, bubble into a giant, tile-lined pool. I wonder if Lozen, the warrior woman of the Apache, bent to drink here.
To the west the deep blue line of the Davis Mountains rises against the lighter sky. As I drive upwards, I imagine this passage in the 1880’s. A young bride reunites with her officer dressed in Cavalry blues. She travels the same route as I do now--following the course of Limpia Creek to the fort. Eroded peaks of jagged red rock spiral above the wagon path
The young woman sews pebbles in her skirts for weight against the West Texas wind. She worries about Apache raids, but finds freedom in this wild place. I know her from reading Army Wives on the American Frontier. Grace Fuller Maxon, wife of Lieutenant Mason Maxon.
those who fight for it,
Anonymous (Army Wives on the American Frontier, p. 111)
Brick walls now line the entrance to the Fort Davis National Historical Site. Ancient cottonwoods with the girth of five men grow near dry bed of Limpia Creek. Signs beneath the trees warn of falling branches. Their shade enticed Buffalo Soldiers, and the Mescalero before.
A bugle call echoes across the
empty parade ground. I expect
an apparition, then realize it is a recording. Glass doors
protect the small, cramped rooms of the officer’s quarters.
Inside a velvet rocker, a bed covered with a faded gingham
quilt, metal pots near the hearth, left as if the couple will
Published in Flash in the Pan, February 2004. Posted with permission.