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Syndic Literary Journal

Photography & Poetry by Deborah Miller

Photography & Poetry

by Deborah Miller


   The ancient Zapotec peoples of Mexico, believed, like my Celtic ancestors,
 that spirit infuses everything – humans, animals, trees, rocks, water,
and the breathing foam on the surface of this morning’s cup
of Oaxacan hot chocolate.
˜   ˜   ˜ 

Sunday Market: Tlacolula, Oaxaca, Mexico


Seventh Street Bridge Lion Modesto CA

  Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Seventh Street Bridge

 Stone lions at entrances    

remind me of Aslan, Narnia’s lion,

keeping watch.


Who keeps watch over Aztlan,

and the children of Aztlan –

            Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, Chicanos,

            Mexicanos, Tejanos,

and their children?


Passageway from Crows Landing Road Tijuana to the Promised Land,

South Modesto children who have never crossed the bridge,

have never seen the Promised Land of “Water Wealth Contentment Health” 


Homeless man builds a bookcase of wood scraps and crates,

houses a fifty volume set of discarded law books,

studies real estate, tenant, and labor law by firelight.

He values what others have cast off.

Can we? 


Mass held under the Seventh Street bridge-

a cathedral for dispossessed souls,

gathering place for hope. 


Del Rio Trailer Park survives by el Rio Tuolumne.

Del Rio Estates flourishes by el Rio Stanislaus.

Riverfront property, worlds apart. 


Bridge over the Tuolumne,

do you remember the mountain lions who roamed this riparian habitat,

before we turned them to stone? 


Crossing over your stone expanse after winter flooding,

I see river extending ocean-like over treetops,

reclaiming its birthright. 


My picture of you is from the south, re-entering the city.

When I cross you from the north, I’m in a hurry, inattentive, fleeing city life. 


A sign reads: “Historic Bridge – LION BRIDGE – 1916.”

Year of my mother’s birth.

Your arches and stone lampposts suggest elegance. 


People of the bridge – 

Mini-skirted woman, long legs enveloped in nylon, applies lipstick and waits under the bridge,

Woman surrounded by small children walks by the bridge to the store,

Man and woman sit and smoke next to a shopping cart full of belongings at base of stone lion. 


Lion’s Market –

red lion faces frame your name,

under the Pepsi sign and above the Foster Dairy Products ad.

Are you historic, too? 


Stone lions stand guard

Two watch el norte – America

Two watch al sur  – Mexico

How can we travel this bridge that connects us?

 (Copyright Debbie Miller, 1999 , with thanks to Wallace Stevens, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”, 1917)

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