June 2, 1920
Day dawns upon me, the sunrise layered
amid Midland and Odessa, in this
such case a reminiscence of Mother’s
lasagna. The early morning leads me
to writing. Here, I pass familiar scenes
of the true cowboy days. Here, I recall
fantasies of the wild west—it yields
rugged masculinity like a vice
against my core. Still
an unripe apple.
It’s wind with open-range-prosperity,
yet the untamed frontier supposes to
produce melancholy. In this such case,
a lifelong remembrance, a dead rose
[note: for him, I planted a yellow rose
in my garden yesterday—‘24]
Months ago in the town Puerticito,
New Mexico [note: just a general
northwest of Albuquerque. Forgotten,
swallowed by the red clay] I expected
a letter from Helen. Her words warmed me
from the winters. As I rose off of the hill,
the sun is half in flight, half dipped in earth’s
cosmic soul. While my hat’s shadow curves
the blind, a rare tin “Lizzie” like mine stopped
me. Headlights. I memorized the headlights,
the chrome stare, the burn.
And the man after
the shine. He yelled my name—“Francis. Are you
Francis?” His eyes tilt toward his mind, in search
for the words. I memorized the headlights.
He said my father was ill. I recall
Papa’s, his father’s, blood disease. His death.
And I remember the shadow became
night as the sun sank below the hilltop
and I remember the headlights’ wonder,
their gazing of the grass fields. North. To home.
I never did take delivery of
that letter from Helen. I was told of
a bag of sugar almonds sent by Ma
and Pa. He left us just at twelve PM.
I had have so many questions to ask.
I read somewhere that American men
have no history of themselves as men--
as we haven’t known what questions to ask.
And soon we are hurled through the hot, the dry,
and the barren. With each mile the heat
cockroaches within our deepest secrets.
We wet towels and wrap them around our heads.
All the windows, closed, help keep the devil
out. We baste like pot roast. I shouldn’t say
but the wet from the towel around her neck
cascades with my fantasies. It drips down
Rose’s neck under her white linen blouse.
Pure. [note: she still, as then, always wears white]
Below her blouse I “see” for the first time.
I follow the water down,
Is this sex with or without the love? Or
is this a love with a precondition
to sex? On my last birthday with Helen
we saw a moving picture show and sure
had a good time. I will never forget--
we sat among the Tamaracks that night--
I will not forget that night but forget
Helen when I see Rose, my desert rose.