We invited him for excitement—that wildman of just fifteen
who spoke to us Baptist boys about smoking pot and running naked
in forty-degree weather.
He might have slept with the Pre-K teacher
if you believed the wagging behind her resignation,
but you'd be a damned fool
if you thought the truth would come from him.
At his behest, we left the stale vinyl sanctity of the tent
and blazed crooked trails through the pastures of sleeping farmers,
looking for jackrabbits but really just feeling the night air
turning to cold, dewy sweat
over our young bodies as the sleighbell chorus of locusts
shimmered above the engine.
Catching sight of restless ears, he blasted the night
with teenage rifle and we pulled up to claim our fading prize.
Back at camp, he stripped the fur and skin in harsh peels
and readied the muscle for fire. Even threw the heart in,
which grayed to a primitive well done.
Over gossip and low orange flames,
I tasted beefsteak from it and somehow avoided myxomatosis
and vengeful hare spirits that hung their shadows
atop the surrounding mesquite.
The visitors are few this Sunday
as smoke from a controlled federal burn skirts by shucked strands
of little bluestem and bad jokes from long dead prospectors over from
the Wichita Mountains just up the road. Across is the cobblestoned
ribcage of Medicine Park, the old water slide breaking off to a naked
sunbleached tibia that dives into trees whose roots have not seen creekwater since
Comanche was an everyday tongue, every yard bedazzled with the finest metal
lizard sculptures and property taxes an alcoholic mayor can be proud of.
The rickety store sells turquoise rings, moccasins, dreamcatchers, katsinas,
everything prairie commercialism and cowtown industry has turned from sage
to curio ash, creaking with the planked floor of plundered outlaw oakwood.
Children stomp hollow raindances as they move about the room, while an old woman
enamors one little girl with stories of little people and the great owl—Muupitsi,
who gobbles up young ones with one swoop over Elk Mountain.
White ladies in gauzy prints hold chunks of amethyst up to mirrors
like vedas, say they can really feel the energy in them. The signs outside advertise
LIVE RATTLESNAKES, but all I see are defeated old coils of scale that
stare from obsidian beads and occasionally shake their rattles, a sound
only they can hear from behind the glass.
We were biding stupid, meaningful time among
cedar and dirtpath on a warm afternoon late in February.
As we walked, we found ourselves
discussing the whore in religious iconography
when everywhere the sun channeled veily aslant rays over the trees
which gave their bark a shine sweet and muted like caramel
smoothing out, eroding the stripbark
peeling and hanging stringy
off the lanky, firm frame and slight towering. The syrupy rays
contrasting off the cooler, unsunned parts of
the trees send a message the breaks our
new philosophies and neologisms
that have no need for cures found in winterbloom, tansy,
hyssop, or greenthread, that have
said their peace and left it that way, for because they are settled
and perfect, have been pricked and
bothered by we gamboling apes, feared, worshipped, confessed,
used, drained, broken, and often ignored.
We move on to newer councils, abstract places black
like a lake's reflection on a cloudy night,
ideas you can't touch or see
while old green gods
and browned naiad breeders
are feasting it up, meaningful time among cedar and dirtpath
on a warm afternoon late in February.