by Cynthia Bryant

Nightfall contained pitch-thick air of desert
though muted night-lights glistened above
no light made its way through doorless opening
into the adobe pueblo with earthen floors
floors to sit, fitfully sleep upon
ample water from a nearby well

Daylight hours spent in town
daughter perched on hip
husband’s eyes hawk-like from a distance
as we pulled manna from the hearts of tourists
for formula, diapers, food
enough to gas the psychedelic painted van
bartered for in Colorado the month before

Barely into my seventeenth year
on the sly with Army-deserter husband
who hid beneath a dark-haired wig
tied at his forehead with rawhide band
Our hungry daughter
whose bottom prickled with rash
that year outside of Taos

Summer season brought happy diversions
shared with brightly clad wanderers
whose long hair, beads, bandanas
colored my world
as they trickled eastward
toward rumors of days and nights
filled with free love, music

We stayed on
unable to follow the dreamers
Our young family
pressed deep into living
that summer of ’69
battling survival and dysentery
against colorless New Mexico backdrop
under shadow of fading youth

SOURCE: “Crossroads” was previously published at (1/18/2007).

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The picture was taken in 1969 — when I was 17 —  with my daughter after we escaped the marriage.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Crossroads” was written after much therapy and healing from the childhood horrors I escaped early to marriage at just 16, motherhood at 17.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: First published in 1997 by two important journals dealing with childhood sexual abuse, Cynthia Bryant has since been published in over 50 anthologies. Her poetry is on numerous websites, an e-book and she has recorded her poems for play on e-radio as well as community television. She has self-published eight chapbooks of poetry which are available in Kansas City, Missouri, as well as many California locations. Most notably Cynthia’s poetry books Sojourn, Pebbles in the Shoe as well as No Time to Shoot the Poets have been accepted in the Ina Coolbrith’s Circle library section in Sacramento’s State Library’s Special Collections Reading Room. You can find her Poets’s Lane page on Facebook.