“The news from the border this morning and my ensuing rage reminds me of something I once read, ‘This has become a society of so many raw issues that no one can be though to behave well.’”
-from The Beige Dolorosa by Jim Harrison
LAND OF ENCHANTMENT
A fundamental lesson is to fish without a hook. Catch and release is a compromise, as much pain for the fish as a tattoo but usually survivable, their essence inked into some permanent crease of my memory made of water and nerves beneath bone.
There’s a painful silence in the West louder than a sonic boom. No one can hear it before the coming storm. CNN and cereal and sleep are a toxic combination during a government shutdown. It’s important to know what we’ll wear to the grave as we fear for the children already lost. Everything tastes bad except good whiskey.
A bourbon for lunch seemed necessary after reading of the xenophobic panic that earth’s magnetic north is hurtling toward Russia at 34 miles per hour every year, a road race in geologic terms. The bartender mixed a sweet syrup, infused with spice and green chile. Taking a sip I proclaimed, “Everyday there are still firsts! What is this?” “The world’s best breath mint,” she replied.
Later she caught me pouring whiskey from a flask into my glass while watching nitwit golfers on the driving range duff and slice and cuss, then look around and blame it on their “new club”. Even I know that success in golf, like everything else worth doing, is about realizing every swing, especially on the driving range, is an artistic endeavor. Kind of like fishing without a hook.
My new house is a symbol of wilderness encroachment. For survival and paybacks it tunnels under everything including the bird feeder and the back patio, driving my dog to madness in this looted excavation.
Sleeping out one night I saw a copperhead weaving its way through the grass in the backyard. I have considerable experience with rattlesnakes but was unprepared for the copperhead, especially their ability to climb rocks as well as comfortable lawn furniture.
These cottonwoods dance, they come and go, their bones. The footsteps of every ghost to wade this creek since it was a creek, washed away by water the color of new blood. Here now, all at once, like a crowded street corner in Tokyo. Most wearing moccasins and a few leather boots.
I can’t keep the squirrels from the bird feeder. I washed the kitchen window at midnight to watch the morning geese fly between the outstretched arms of two cottonwoods, my new horizon. Every day I dream about the Land of Enchantment not realizing it’s already here.
Per the French poet Rene Char, “You have to be there when bread comes fresh from the oven.” So, I drove to Cash’s in Seminole where I was greeted by Joe, an ancient cowboy with three missing fingers, a result of “the goddamn rodeo!” Joe said he was watching the store for his brother, recuperating after a large heifer rolled over on him. I asked Joe about the old hat, which he pulled it from the top shelf. There it was, a big old dusty black beaver Stetson with a round crown and a seven-inch flat brim. Sure enough, it had a small hole in the back, covered by a piece of felt.
Joe confirmed the story, that it was brought in by a Seminole during the depression. And that he’d been shot in the back of the head, but by the time the bullet entered the hat, it petered out, falling on his head.
This was too good to be true, so I told Joe this was an obvious yarn. If I had such lucky hat with the added bonus of being bullet proof, I’d wear it into the grave. To which he replied, “Yur prob’ly right, but don’t tell no one. It’s the only reason anyone comes to this ol’ store anymore. Sure sounds like sumpthin’ an old Indian would tell a white feller, doesn’t it?”