involves pilgrims, not the hand-turkey kind, not the brass-buckled blind bulletin board thieves, but travelers, proselytes, seekers, willing to walk over grassy plains, dry for more than thirty years with scant rain, drought forcing out this parade of the thirsty, stumbling due east across the Altiplano toward the blue white peaks of the Andes. They chanted pleas for the rumble of thunder, to sweeten potatoes, the meat of alpaca and llama, for fish scorched to leather in the same dusty lake bed where the creator emerged, to shape earth and the people with damp fingers, where the ancestors lingered at the gateway of the sun, where undone shrines crouched on cracked coasts, where the need to persist was even greater than the terror of ghosts. What priest would we seek, I wonder, willing to smash the kero, ceremonial cup battered against the skull of a neighbor, who would we place on the altar stone, when the wind cries for decades, clatter of our own bones ever drier and hotter? Every language has a word for water.
Mary Carroll-Hackett earned an MFA from Bennington College, and her work has appeared in numerous journals including Carolina Quarterly, Clackamas Literary Review, Pedestal Magazine, Superstition Review, Drunken Boat, and The Prose-Poem Project, among others. She was a North Carolina Blumenthal Writer and winner of the Willamette Award for Fiction. Her chapbook, The Real Politics of Lipstick, won Slipstream’s 2010 poetry competition, and another, Animal Soul, was released in 2013 from Kattywompus Press. Her full-length collection, If We Could Know Our Bones, was released January 2014 from A-Minor Press. Her newest collection The Night I Heard Everything is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press in 2015. She founded and teaches in the Creative Writing Programs at Longwood University. She also teaches workshops on Writing Through the Chakras at The Porches writers’ retreat in Virginia, and recently joined the low-residency MFA faculty at West Virginia Wesleyan. Mary founded and edits The Dos Passos Review, Briery Creek Press, and The Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry. Mary is currently at work on a memoir.