“Fuseli in Peru” by Mark A. McCutcheon

“Fuseli in Peru” by Mark A. McCutcheon

Down into the cloud-flanneled forest of the Inca Trail
You fly supine and feet first, as if you ride a luge sled
Fly to Dead Woman’s Pass
Land below the sandal-worn saddle of the pass
See the top of an evergreen approaching the pass
From the other side of the mountain, unknown as night
The evergreen comes into focus astride a horse
Watch this horse as it careens towards you
And as if you ride it too
Gripping only its sweat-slicked mane for reins
Mark this horse as it crests the pass
Hooves hammering the root-veined earth

Figure what comes here

The horse careens over the pass, frothing
It is not a whole horse galloping
Only the front half of a horse severed from its hind
Its mad eyes rolling
The half-horse barrels toward you, like a stage costume falling apart
Tumbling entrails not clowns

Figure what comes here

Figure what first appeared above the saddle of the pass
A red-branched conifer, saddling the horse
No — impaling the horse
A fearful symmetry of red branches stakes its spine
As if this mare has sprouted a second spine out its skin
As this horse charges you, momentum its only world now
Its unbearable conifer tilts and shivers like a standard
It bears you news of the new chaos
Imminent as breath
Inescapable as rain

Mark A. McCutcheon is Associate Professor of Literary Studies at Athabasca University, where he researches and teaches postcolonial popular culture, copyright, and Romantic literature. He has published short fiction in subTerrain (1996 and 2000) and Carousel (2004); scholarly essays in English Studies in Canada (2012) and Continuum (2011), among other journals; and book reviews in Extrapolation (2011), ARIEL (2009), and elsewhere. His scholarly blog is academicalism.wordpress.com.