The donkey in Zubiri seemed to know us. He waited on the hilltop, greeted
us gently like an old dog. We took turns wrapping our arms around his neck,
feeling the full weight of his head on our shoulders, a blessing like the words
the sisters had spoken in Roncesvalles. Back on the path, the red dust
staining our ankles, we carried this tenderness with us, glancing back to see him
naked in the field, his muzzle resting on a mossy stone fence, eyes worrying
over our pilgrim bodies, the way we favored our blisters and sores.
Down the hill, the grasses parted around our hips and knees, closed snug
behind us. Sheep, sticky with brambles, glanced up from their grazing, shepherd
shapes reflected in creek pools, grew hazy across hot plains. Big dogs followed
the herds, hedged them in on tall mountains, bedded down with them at dusk
while Spanish ferns caught raindrops, and eagles wheeled along cliff edges.
Alex McIntosh lives and writes in Kentucky, her favorite place in the world. She received her B.A. in Recreation with an Emphasis in Adventure Leadership from Asbury University, and is currently working on her M.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Northern Kentucky University, and her MFA in Poetry from Miami University. The woods are her favorite place to walk, think, sing, and sleep. You can find photos of her poodle named Grizzly Bear on Instagram @the_real_alexmac