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Pack Horse Librarian The earliest of birds have not stirred and the old rooster dreams of dawn when I saddle the rented red mule. A faint fingernail of moon scratches the ridge. Altair, Deneb, and Vega announce summer on high though chill pierces my jacket. Clouds roll dark, Redbuds will riot against a galvanized sky by dawn boiling up crimson. My packs bulge with words to be carried up dark hollows, down steep ridges, through swift creeks. A scrap of oilcloth, a grateful gift, will keep damp April from precious papers, bold pictures, worn covers. Perhaps bright Jenny will tote a babe. It rode low on her a fortnight ago, ladies magazines for company, her man building for the CCC, great western dams his legacy. Just dawn, a pair of towheads wrapped in a quilt wait creekside swap picture books for warm cornbread savored slow. The sky bleeds across the ridge. Mule foot and trail-memory sure, we make two more stops before April seeps into my coat, bites my fingers, stings my eyes, Redbud Winter falling hard. Carry the books, WPA pays a dollar a day and all I can read for the coal oil I can spare. Book ladies carry the words, spread the words, share the words with troubled faces in time fallen hard. I —Jane Hicks 61 ...


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