Manzano Mountain Review is an online New Mexico literary journal affiliated with UNM-Valencia.

Two Poems
by Karen Petersen

​​The Witnessing of the Flowers

It starts with something as simple
as driving by a roadside shrine
to the dead, a place where
an accident occurred,
it doesn't speak more than that.
You don't know if it was at night
or during the day, or the age
of the deceased, you just know
that it happened.
And it starts with looking at it,
and because you pass by
this shrine daily you notice something
that no one else just driving by once
would ever know, or even a few
times a year, because they
wouldn't remember.
You notice that the flowers
are changed every week
and then you realize that someone
in their great grief, and desire
to remember the deceased,
comes faithfully, week after week,
year after year, so that the person
they loved is never forgotten.
And suddenly you are filled with
a great sadness because you feel
their sorrow, in the witnessing
of the flowers, and you start
to notice these shrines
in many places, and you realize
the great grief that surrounds you,
and then and only then
do you understand.

Six Views of Northern New Mexico:
The Transcendence of the Ordinary

Driving through blue light
the ragged broadscape of sky,
expanding viewpoints.

By the roadside dance
white yucca blossoms like snow
lost in summer’s heat.

A flash of ravens
in tall pines, cawing loudly,
a town is coming.


A tiny wild rose,
with its air of tradition:
sharp thorns, and perfume.

The pentinent came,
hearing the big ringing bells,
sounds of forgiveness.

 Behind the old church
a black dog by the river
shaking his wet coat. 

Karen Petersen, adventurer, photojournalist and writer, has traveled the world extensively, publishing both nationally and internationally in a variety of publications. Most recently, she was published in The Malpais Review in the USA and Antiphon in the UK. In 2015, she read "In Memory of W.B. Yeats," published in A New Ulster, at the Yeats Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is currently at work on Four Points on a Compass, a collection of her poems from overseas. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Classics from Vassar College and an M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.