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Western Spirits
Lynn Edge

        I leave the known.  

        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.  

        To those who fight for it,
        life has a flavor
        the protected never know.

        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.

        woolen blanket
        with odor of horses--
        sleeping soldier

        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 return.
        sitting room
        a lace covered table
        her diary open

Published in Flash in the Pan, February 2004. Posted with permission.