I’d forgotten about stars,
the only prairie ornament.
As we drank on the patio,
they lit his head until
cloudcover cut them off,
chiaroscuro, the way his whiskers
banked over his jaw after five.
I’d forgotten about the emptiness
of the prairie. Just that morning
we’d gone in the old Continental
to salt the cattle, to collect
what they had already tongued.
He turned north, spinning the sand
and sage, then east, then north again
on no road. Here, he said, do you
want it? At his feet, a cowskull,
clean, horned and with all its teeth,
the wind ribbing the sand around it
with its little nervousness.
I’d forgotten about how he didn’t take
thanks. With a jerk, he hurtled his ice
to the dog in the bushes and rubbed
his face awake. There’s another
if you want it but the skin’s
stuck on. It needs a few years.
I’d forgotten my mother’s half-laughable
jealousy, how her call
always reduced him to the TV.
I helped him up. Was his hair
always so thin and that color?