Wintering in Pittsburgh,
She didn’t know.

Waiting for snow and ice
To clear from roads
Roads that would take her
Across the mountains.

Then to the river.
Then the other river.
Near the continent’s end.

To her husband.


Speculation, they call it.
Land for the taking. For profit.
Land that’s not yours.
Not yours,
though you sing otherwise.

He had been a British soldier,
then became American.
Like the colonies.

Treaties that ended the war
Claimed to give passage
Down the river

Rights to the river, that the Spanish had denied
That weren’t Spanish or French or British or American


She leaves Philadelphia
Two days before Christmas

Makes it to Pittsburgh
Early in January

Where she will stay
Past the middle of May

But February



Her husband
In the land
Named for the people
Named for the land

That land
He left her
Left the war
To claim


The fever killed him
Though it hadn’t yet taken
The hold it would take
In the next century
In her home, Philadelphia
And another close century later,
His nearest city, New Orleans

A fever blamed

On immigrants
On trade
On slaves

He was dying
She was wintering


And then she was traveling
Through trials that had Winthop conjured

Traveled six months
And he was already dead
For speculation


Almost at Natchez
Almost to his heart

Mere days before
Independence and reunion

“1st of July [1784]”
Her diary reads

She is finally told
That he had died
Some time ago

Not long after she’d left,
But a long time now

And a long time since she’d left
Her mother’s home,
The nation’s birthplace


When you celebrate independence
How often do you remember
The death at its heart

Not the heroic sacrifices
But rather the grief
From speculation

Grief that remembers
That opens up
That offers repair


Mar García is a queer non-binary daughter of immigrants who transcribes her experiences and research through as-yet-unpublished creative nonfiction prose and poetry prose. In her other life, they are a scholar of Latinx and early American studies and teach at a public, minority-serving institution in Chicago.