Flamingos in Atacama
by Mary MacGowan
In this absolute desert
everything turns to artifact:
Sitting crosslegged for 500 years,
a girl with long braided hair.
She wears a mask to ward off
evil spirits, holds a grub hoe
carved of llama jawbone.
Bony dogs skulk the streets
in San Pedro de Atacama.
Nearby, wrecked car skeletons
and flamingos asleep
in pooled mountain water.
Ice forms around their spindly legs
while they wait for a morning sun
that always comes to set them free.
Mary MacGowan’s poems have been published in many literary
journals including Cimarron, POEM, The Literary Journal,
a-pos-tro-phe, and Blood Orange Review. She is an art therapist
who lives in New Jersey with three children, an old dog, and a young
kitten who is attacking her feet as she types this. MacGowan’s
poem, “A Pedicurist Bowing Before a Goddess,” won second place
in the 2005 Juniper Press contest.
On “Flamingos in Atacama”:
“Flamingos in Atacama” is part of a group of poems based on
National Geographic articles and photos. The following phrases
were from 2003: “. . . everything turns (in)to artifact” and
“skeletons of wrecked vehicles” was revised as “wrecked
vehicle skeletons.” It all started when I read an article about
polar bears while waiting for my weekly therapist appointment.
I became exhilarated at the idea of perusing these magazines
from the past seven decades. Happily, my therapist didn't
hospitalize me for delusional thinking, and I now have a
booklength manuscript making the rounds.
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 2, Number 1
Copyright © 2007
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors