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Spring 2006 Edition
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Author: Margarita Engle
Age: 54
Location: Clovis, California

Margarita Engle is a 54-year-old botanist and the Cuban-American author of several novels, most recently The Poet Slave of Cuba, a biography in poems (forthcoming from Henry Holt & Co., April, 2006). Short works appear in journals such as Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, Caribbean Writer, Hawai'i Pacific Review, and Thema. Awards include a Cintas Fellowship, a San Diego Book Award, and a 2005 Willow Review Poetry Award. Margarita has traveled extensively in Cuba and other parts of Latin America. She lives in central California, where she enjoys hiking and helping her husband with a wilderness search-and-rescue dog training program.

Contact information: Margarita Engle,


I do not know
the arcane names and numbered models
of guns, but I recognize the boom
of a deer hunter in forest
and the pop-pop-pop of dove hunters
in fields

and I've felt the shaking earth
of explosives
from a bombing range
where young demolition trainees
practice day and night
year after year
even between wars---
on hillsides so wild
that towering fences are not enough
to keep coyotes and cougars away
from the sound of scurrying rabbits
and other helpless prey.

Central Colombia

The children have learned to fly back and forth to school, dangling from steel cables suspended high above the flooded rain forest floor…no trails or roads in this realm of jaguars and guerrilla camps.

The children cross chasms and gorges, first climbing cliffs and trees, then rappelling to heights, and sliding along the cables, older children carrying the younger ones in sacks of coarse burlap, like small helpless creatures being delivered to market.
Nameless villages are hidden far below.

The river is black.
There are angels in the water.

From their place in the sky, children see the white fog and green wildness… it’s a place so familiar that each child in flight accepts an airborne existence as normal…nothing is impossible here, no miracle of daily survival ever seems completely new.

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