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Amanda Auchter

My Maternal Grandmother Crosses the Border with a Rose in Her Mouth


She is a chuparrosa in the desert,

ruby throated with heat. I imagine this —
sandals pale with dust, epazote, wild

lavender. I fill in the story, the colors —
speck of blue ribbon

tied to her braid, purple flowers
ready to be plucked for tea. Black lace

mantillas crossing the dirt, the low river,
horses, crack of a whip. The thorn-

thick rosebushes at Puerta a México.
My grandmother’s blood-tipped fingers,

swipe of rust on her dress. She bit
the dark stem in her teeth as she stared

at the boots, the badges, the guns,
then crossed the bridge. A shock

of red petals drifted to the ground.

Prairie Triolet

“The Oregon Trail has been called the world's longest graveyard, with one body, on average, buried every 80 yards or so.” — The New York Times

We bury our children here among the low grass,
beside striations of wheel ruts and animal bones.
I wrap my daughter in muslin, bluebells in her fist.
We bury our children here. Among the low grass,
the bleached sun casts shadows over graves marked
with tin cups, whittled dolls. Horses flick their tails as
we bury our children. Here, among the low grass,
beside striations of wheel ruts and animal bones.

Amanda Auchter is the author of The Wishing Tomb, winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Poetry and the Perugia Press Book Award, and The Glass Crib, winner of the Zone 3 Press First Book Award for Poetry. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Alaska Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review, HuffPost, CNN, The Iowa Review, Shenandoah, The Massachusetts Review, and the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day project, among others. She lives in Houston, TX.

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