he drove forty-five minutes
to arrive here
sixty years later
an empty street
bordered by tufts of dead grass
and two bedraggled buildings
he stepped beneath one building’s
tin roof buckled like a cotton shirt
on a humid day
he took off his grey stetson
wiped the inside band with a handkerchief
put it back on

then like Gary Cooper
squinted down the street
as if expecting to recognize someone
not even wind
the bright caliche
he took the boy’s small hand
in his massive palm
and said, “Wanna coke?”
the screen door patched with tin signs 
advertising snuff and Mrs. Baird’s Bread
snapped shut behind them
they stepped into the cool dark
a ceiling fan slowly stirred
stale beer through smoky air

(Summer 2004)

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