Safely Perhaps, The Alamo


Alistair Paterson

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 124 in September, 2010.

Movies remind me that in America
there always seems a lot to worry about –
legitimate & not so legitimate dangers

that when you reach it the Rio Grande
is merely centimetres, no more than ankle
deep, a wide river running over sand –

which is as I remember it, how it looked
when the posse arrived there & splashed
across with their horses rearing up

riders spurring them on, mountains
reaching up to a cloudless sky suggesting
a hot & difficult ride to get to where

they were going, catch up with whoever
it was they were chasing across the border
into Mexico & predictable danger.

A flurry of jack rabbits huddles together
ears laid back, watches nervously from
below the mesa for the horseman to pass.

The messages sent back were delayed,
lie unread on a dusty shelf in a post office
waiting to be taken to Albuquerque . . .

A train in the Hollywood theatre
rushes past emitting smoke, scattering dust
                          & pebbles – hurtles towards oblivion.