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.