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Pima Road Notebook #4 by Keith Ekiss

11/10/2010

The Mercy Patrols

By Keith Ekiss

Mormon pilgrims borrowed the river

and never gave it back. There was rain

for winter wheat, nothing in summer

for cotton or melon. New needs: sugar,

currency. Men cut trees to sell—

mesquite forest, once horse-thick

along the Gila, disappeared. If neighbors

only fed their own family, a widow

starved. It wasn’t that long ago.

Children forced east to boarding school

died of winter. The Pima carried

gourd water freely to travelers,

migrants heady with the California rush,

whose children pulled the water out

beneath the Pima’s feet.

*

New Issues has recently published Keith Ekiss’ book of poems Pima Road Notebook.

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