When I was a teenager, my family's car broke down in Ouray, Colorado, a barely-there village (pop. 1,013) sitting at an altitude of 7,800 feet in the middle of the San Juan Mountains. I couldn't believe my misfortune: there was no swimming pool or television at the hotel where we stayed. There was no McDonald's; the nearest movie theater was forty-five miles away. My parents said we'd be staying until the car was fixed.
More than fifteen years later, in 2001, when l needed a remote location to get some writing done, I began an affair with that same little village, those same mountains. I shadowed some horse trainers at Eagle Hill Ranch and wrote about them in my hybrid memoir, Splitting. The story of a marriage and an equine program for women in trouble, Splitting is told from three perspectives (a wife who stayed, a wife who ran, the wife who survived). Chapters have been published in Prime Number Magazine, Quarterly West, Barrelhouse, Fourth Genre, Grist, So To Speak, The Fourth River, Baltimore Review, Able Muse, under the gum tree, Image: Art, Faith, Mystery, and other journals.
Meanwhile, my story-collection-in-progress, Trouble Is a Friend of Mine, spins into fiction local newspaper accounts about the environmental and wilderness disasters along U.S. 550 (known as the Million Dollar Highway), from Durango, to Silverton, through Ouray, and ending at Montrose. Stories from this collection have appeared in Colorado Review, The New Guard, Literature: A Pocket Anthology, and other journals. In 2012, this collection won the Everett Southwest Literary Award, judged by Lee K. Abbott.
under the gum tree
Tonight, you wonder why evolution hasn't yet untethered the eyes of female humans, bifurcating their vision so they can better see what's coming. Your head tilts over your shoulder toward the blind spot behind you, listening for trouble to charge through The Grit's door.
At my cabin, spider webs dangled from the ceiling in the bathroom and kitchen. There was no telephone. A fat bear-proof garbage can sat on the deck—a warning. As I stood at the opened patio door, I pondered the chore of trash, the types of predators I’d traded my husband for.
"Girlfriends Solid as Rock"
The cowgirl is all business. She wears torn Levi's, a Carhartt jacket, scuffed boots. She hauls wheelbar-rows of wet shit out of the stables and returns with clean shavings. Her breathing coasts from her mouth, slow and steady. To her, I must look like a sissy she could plow over with that wheelbarrow.
THE NEW GUARD
"Catch and Release"
Jenny doesn’t like fishing so close to the sterile headwaters. She resents the old mines that filled the river with ore and sulfur, and dyed it the color of egg yolks. She doesn’t like the roar of water this time of year either, how the snowmelt pumps up the river till it runs high and wild.