Leah Mueller

Strange Tequila

At the border crossing
from Mexico to the US, I stood 
with my filthy backpack
in front of a customs guard.

He scrutinized my face
without expression, and said,

“Will you please take that off
and place it on the table 
in front of me?” Instead of terror, 

I felt a Yoda-like calm, though
I knew my two tequila bottles
filled with psilocybin honey 

would soon emerge into the harsh
desert light, clutched inside
the guard’s imperious grasp.

He extracted the first bottle
from the damp underbelly
of my dirty underwear

and squinted at the grainy bits
of mushroom heads and stems
floating in viscous soup.

“This is strange tequila,” he said.

“Yes,” I agreed. “It was a gift.” 

Technically, that was true.
A man had given me the bottles
at a Palenque campground, because

he liked my energy. I left before I
had the chance to prove him wrong.
My energy was like a two-year-old 

child’s crayon drawing. Yet now, stoic
and self-assured. The border guard
shoved the bottle back inside my pack
and pulled out my cannabis pipe.

“I suppose this is also a gift,” he said, 
but his voice was gentle, inquisitive.
“I hope you haven’t used it.”

“Of course not,” I said. “I just
like the way it looks.” He nodded,
thrust the pipe back into my pack
and smiled. “You can go now.”

I hoisted the load across my shoulders,
gave him a jovial wave, and strolled
back into the country of my birth.

A pockmarked sign above read, 
“Welcome to Texas.” So many
miles to go until Wisconsin. Good thing
I still had my strange tequila.

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