Wild With All Regret

Naralie L.M. Petesch

        Ms. Petesch is well-known for her story writing. In this, her fifth collection, she spans time and geography, moving from the Great Depression to Spain and Mexico. Fans of Ms. Petesch will find that her voice remains as gritty as ever, and her vision as compassionate. There are only a few of these books left. Available in cloth only, no dust jacket. Illustration by Ross Zirkle.

ISBN 0-930501-07-1, Trade paper, $14.00                      Sale $7.00

ISBN 0-930501-06-3, Library binding, $20.95                  Sale $10.50

168 pages

 Excerpt From the Book:

Silencio. Then again Massif’s hoofbeats like the rain on the roof of their house: only fifteen kilometers from his village, and here the afternoon rains had already fallen. In the polished pools he could see as they passed; the vaulted sky, the cactus fence of a pulque farm, and the white crest of the volcano. From time to time Massif, had she turned to look, might have glimpsed herself in the gleaming surfaces: but she knew better than that. Sedately she made her way, her hoofs cleaving the water with such clean sharp steps that the mirrors seemed to break apart silently. Benito wished he could have outfitted her more lavishly for the event. But he had paid a blacksmith a week’s wages to have her shod, and he had not succumbed to the temptation of grooming her himself. He had bargained with his patrón for the use of his charro outfit, from now to Christmas. It had been a hard bargain: now, after buying new lariats, he had not a peso left. Though Boudreau had assured him that the lariats he offered to lend him were as strong as steel, Benito preferred new ones: he knew better than his patrón that when the rope landed around the legs of the bull, nothing in heaven or earth should free him. Massif’s ears slanted cautiously: what she did not like were these automobiles hurtling toward Mexico City. Knowing this, Benito spoke as if he had heard her: “Well, let them go if they want, eh? Who needs them?” Massif listened attentively: she knew Benito’s ways. Yet it was not he who owned Massif, but Boudreau, a former textile merchant from Lyons. It was Boudreau who had foreseen, as he sometimes boasted, that the little white palomino would be strong as a mountain one day. At such times Benito too would join in singing Massif’s praises: she was like a camel for water, she would stand with endless patience in the bullring while the sun became as sharp as hot knives on the skin. Then, after an interminable wait, she would rouse herself to gallop at lightning speed, halting at the merest touch of the bridle on an imaginary line.  

During the coleada it sometimes seemed to him that Massif was as eager to taunt the bulls as Benito himself. And with all this power, her legs were exquisite stalks. Yet it had been neither her speed not her temperament that had lured him to long labor for the pleasure of riding her, but her eyes... Once, from among the rows of avocado trees where he had been working, Benito had glanced toward the corral. It was there, just outside the corral that she was standing when he first saw her: someone after riding her had neglected to return her to the stable. It was nearly sundown and Benito had been due home in an hour to celebrate his fifteenth cumpleanos. Massif was cropping the grass, eating not from hunger, it seemed, but with great fastidiousness, as if determined to show him what manner of horse she was: they had left her like this sweating lightly from her exercise, but she did not complain. At the sound of his boots she had looked up. Her eyes were as soft as dusk, they filled him with their love and melancholy. In her eyes he had received for a split second the full shock of history: of Cortés rising on the horizon like a sungod or centaur, bringing to his people despair and salvation.

Now, as Massif passed a wooden plaque nailed to a tree, Benito rose slightly in his saddle. Someone had met his death at that spot, struck down by a truck: he glanced at the name and date freshly burned into the wood. Massif paused, one hoof in midair as if to avoid stepping on some living thing. Then she trotted on, assuring him by her steady pace that all was well, all was well. Her rhythm reminded him of the clock in Boudreau’s dining room, ticking out life in tiny pieces: he muttered now to Massif that before God he did not envy Boudreau his great dining room nor all his wealth, but what he did envy him with all his heart was Massif.