When I was a June twenty-two,
one week fresh from graduation,
I took a flight to Lubbock
and wore cowboy hats with friends
as young and sweet as grass.
One night we put on skirts
and tall boots and ambled through the halls
of an old restaurant, bourbon and whiskey
in glasses, all very kin to cigars
and mustaches, dark with ranch wood.
The stars would be bright, the moon
uncommonly full in that wide sky,
so we stepped outside, a slight chill
wrapping down our boots and around
our ankles, expecting Texas.
Instead, the screams of a child--
two children? more?--broke the twilight,
and I gaped up--up, for they were in the trees,
perched and wailing at the coming dark,
pleading in a language I couldn't decipher.
“Peacocks,” a man said, amused, thumb in his pocket.
I know because I stared at him in astonishment.
Pressed pants. No belt buckle. Thin tie.
No cowboy hat. Peacocks in trees, their tail feathers
draped extravagantly over limbs like evening
dresses, stars of blue and green and gold,
mad debutantes, filling out the harmony of oil rigs.
That night I removed my boots
and didn’t check for snakes.
And ten years later, while rocking my child
to sleep in a new home, dusk painting
the acre and a half in tree shadows--
all those Minnesota maples and oaks and pines--
my thoughts of twinkling little stars were interrupted
by hysterical laughter, a long throaty gobble--
two gobbles? maybe more?--and, though startled,
I didn’t need a man in a thin tie to tell me to look up.
Look up. Find the spirits in the trees. Open your windows.Call back to them in the way you now know how.
Hope the sun is shining where you are.