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Published: Sun Jul 1 2012
Eva LundsagerUnder Constant Still (detail), 2017–2021, oil on canvas
Online 2012 Journeys Nature Violence

Deliciously astringent hard yellow ataulfo mangos from Veracruz

Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Michoacán

Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nayarit

Blue wisteria against tan stucco

Yellow inner flanges of the tumbling lavender clusters of the paulowinas’ trumpet blossoms

Tossing in the wind

Wisteria and paulowina blossoms now seem to be everywhere here where there is water

In the same late spring as the lilacs, the wisteria, and the irises

All this lavender against the clear Chihuahua sky

In little Hachita north of the border, near the post office two blocks off the road through, NM 9, a rusting New Jersey Suburban Transit commuter bus left in the weeds alongside a derelict shack

A band or Ken Kesey-style pranksters probably drove it here

It’s like the empty water bottles, discarded jackets, lost shoes, human tracks in the dust of the draws and arroyos along the border all the way west to Tijuana and the Pacific

The Big Hatchet Mountains, Antelope Wells

No world-wise Chihuahua sophistication on el Bordo‘s leftbank

Empty driving west on 9 toward Arizona, cross the Continental Divide twice, in Grant County and then again before Animas in Hidalgo, the next county west

Between El Paso and Antelope Wells, and on through Nogales all the way to San Diego, the migrants’ concerns are the water that’s left and how much hotter it will get before sundown

From El Paso west, since 2004 los Paisanos al Rescate have flown the border dropping water with little parachutes to migrants plodding into the alabaster silicon desert glare on the route from Palomas north to Deming

Freezing black nights below the firmament

Coyote yip and mesquite rattle in the desert wind

Arching from the Gulf to the far Pacific

The gabacho can-do patriotic pragmatism trying to counter the flood of the border by Latinos and OTMs (other than Mexicans)

Where there isn’t yet a wall

Skyboxes that are electronic observation modules on hydraulic pantographs

Towed on small trailers and parked on high points close to the line

Flanked by portable floodlight stanchions

Transmitting images to monitoring posts behind from panning remote-controlled cameras

That alert Border Patrol ground units or spotlighting helicopters to hover in

On the Chihuahua-Sonora side some must imagine getting fired up and sprinting across to attack the electronics

A ranch road from Animas west of Hachita strikes south through a volcanic landscape and then cuts across into Arizona to leave the Guadalupe Mountains before Douglas

At sundown US Border Patrol 4x4s saturate the desert east of Douglas where it hugs the international border

With the big west-east highway, Federal 2, from Mexicali, on the other side in sight across scrub desert

The Border Patrol sets up for the night, parking on high ground just off the gravel road as if to sit and watch the show

Through splendid sunsets and dawns

Cold frightening nights

Farther west into Douglas on the Arizona side where, in a park within the little city’s grid, there is a wonderfully attractive big evening-cookout Mexican gathering going on

Fresh shirts and clean jeans, wide skirts mostly for the women and the girls just about like Mexican-American gatherings were a generation ago

The twenty miles to Bisbee’s immense Lavender Pit by dark

Yellowish brown, grayish dark yellow

Sulfurous tailings against lavender bedrock

Eight billion pounds of copper, three million ounces of gold were extracted there

The void left open to vivid Arizona sky

Lavender paulowina blossoms

A town of steep-stepped urban canyon slopes

Plank steps, rails and landings, well-carpentered gingerbread-western houses and cottages and their verandahs

A century ago Bisbee was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco

In July 1917, eleven hundred Wobblies were forced into boxcars at gunpoint here and shipped eastward to New Mexico by vigilantes abetted by mine-owning Phelps Dodge

The train was turned back toward Bisbee by the US Army at old Camp Furlong in Columbus, New Mexico

The site of Pancho Villa’s Raid into the US the year before

The vigilante’s prison train, puffing its way back toward Arizona, haulted at Hermanas, a disused railway camp halfway to Hachita, and there the eleven hundred IWW members were prodded out of the boxcars and left in the empty desert

“And gravitating with it to this ground, // Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in, // If only that so many dead lie round”—Philip Larkin

Los güeros in Naco, Arizona dead opposite across el Bordo, a line across the asphalt, from the pressuring pepper bellies in Naco, Sonora


The alfalfa green vega there stretches down into Sonora along the mesquite bajada along the mountain front

Along which Coronado arrived in 1540 from Compostela far down in Nayarit

To march his plumed and breast-plated macho stinking soldiers with their fearful arquebuses northeastward across the Great American Desert void toward the Zuñi centers of Cibola

Dead north from there through Fort Huachuca, the old cavalry post of the Apache Wars

Presently a US Army intelligence center prepping iPodded, discreetly moussed, gelled or glisten-volumized Arabic translators for Iraq and all of Araby

Their hair seems to bode the future of our empire of the late bourgeois world

Another “Ozymandias,” a lost-in-the-desert repeat of what lies near Fort Huachuca’s electronics and post-modern brick-barracks, the mysteries of the ancient and empty Mogollon Mimbres sites lost in the canyons off to the north

The Men from Esc
by Cristina Rivera Garza
Translated from the Spanish by Sarah Booker
AGNI 94 Journeys Nature Mysteries
Online 2016 Animals Nature Violence
AGNI 3 Home Journeys Violence

D. E. Steward is in his twenty-sixth year of months in the mode of his AGNI Online pieces “Maggiot,” “Juino,” and “Agosti.” Other months in this project have appeared in Conjunctions, The Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. Written serially, month to month, many have autobiographical reference, but the project is not an extended Jahrbuch. It has affinity to Cyril Connolly’s The Unquiet Grave, and Evan S. Connell’s two books of a similar kind. Well over half the 306 months in the project have been published in magazines. Another Mexican border month, “Avrila,” appears in Conjunctions 53. (updated 5/2012)

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