A warning as the dust rises, in the shrinking
tanks, cold ashes
in the hired men’s fire pits: don’t get lost out here.
The landscape takes us in. Whispers in the rattle
glimpses through node and thorn, many eyes
waves us off with the guajillo’s swaying limbs.
Night comes with its scuttle of small feet,
the whiskey run
to La Pryor, the sky praying its slow rosary
fading out past the blackbrush and the coals
of our dying
fire. We empty the bottle, we stumble to bed.
The alarm trips at 5, rasping radio static. South Texas
tries its voice—
barb and scrape, dry rattle, coyote song, creaky tin.
The little lakes gasp,
their cracking beds rimmed with frost. Headlights
streak the dark. By 8, the sun and moon flank the sky—
a standoff, maybe, but
we can’t feel what pulls us apart or holds us together.
We quit the deer blind
around noon and drive up on a body beside the road.
A twelve-pointer, not long dead, one brow tine broken.
Two clusters of holes
clotted with black blood spiral down his side. Intestines
the open belly. Coyote tracks in wet dust, scabbed over.
A cheap shot, dad says, Blindsided while he fought
Dios ve, the owner says, por los ojos negros
del gamo, those
empty sockets already picked clean by the buzzards.
With a hacksaw from the truck, dad severs the buck’s
head to take as
a trophy. Our breaths silently rise. The rose of his neck
blooms for us,
quickly wilts to grey in the settling dust.