1 minute read

What Matters

First remove a small bird, then chop

the spiny saguaro, smash into woody ribs,

heap like giant pick-up-sticks

on the hot desert highway.

Herd these javelina to some gulch or other

run them off on peccary tiptoes, chuffing displeasure,

feisty beasts, their sustenance of sand and fibre,

They’re not picturesque anyway, up close.

Those burros, do they matter?

Somebody lead them off across the sand

to some arroyo over there, into a stand

of willows, into inky shade under a crumbly butte.

No adobe roadhouse, no glossy braids, no turquoise

bola ties, no dust-covered vaqueros

with serapes and white teeth, surplus to our need,

maybe some tumbleweed rolling along the scorching wind.

So here’s what we have left now: father, after work

in shirtsleeves, curved in a chair with a Louis L’Amour,

a Zane Grey, passionate for the places he’d never been,

releasing columns of tiny numbers

into the tumbling tufts. Should we say if the chair

is leather, or brown, or worn?

Redundant, to say that we loved him.