by Rachel Mason
I am standing on Franconia Ridge,
with new friends.
I know their names,
But I can’t complain, fart, cry in front of them.
We are young people from the city,
coming to the mountains for the weekend.
mountains behind mountains behind
mountains and then-
I know that ridge!
the witch’s nose curl,
the long table of Mansfield.
I shout their names to the valley,
like calling out to an old friend
I recognize in the airport.
But my new friends tell me
to look at what’s in front of me.
In the present.
Those mountains, out there,
are nothing to squint for.
But I can’t stop my eyes from retracing
the familiar backdrop,
because I know you are there,
below the faded blue ridge,
tossing your keys in the air,
then catching them, as you walk across
a parking lot.
by Rachel Mason
I teach English in a white trailer,
in a white valley that smells
like hay and cow shit.
The trailer has a tie-die banner,
and a glow-up Virgin Mary
bought on a corner in New York City.
On the couch, a man lies crumpled
up in a Yankees sweatshirt.
He watches a glossy TV host from Miami.
More men come in the house.
They drop their muck bucks and donated jackets
against the wall.
The men sleep. They milk the cows.
They eat rice & eggs with hot sauce.
They study English on flashcards-
“This cow is sick.”
“How are you?”
“I need to send money home.”
In the white trailer is a new boy.
He wants 20 phone cards to call his girlfriend,
who wears a promise ring in Chiapas.
The older ones buy less phone cards-
forgetting how old the daughter or the son is now.
In the white trailer, the new boy lies on his bed.
He blares Banda music from the windows
to the field of cows-
Music playing loudly for no one but himself,
when it used to play for the girls, the grandmothers,
the street dogs and vendors-
Now music just plays for the new boys,
who become old men-
passing in and out of
the white trailer.