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Fleur-de-lis


ISSUE:  Autumn 1984

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?

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