%. Poems by R. G. Vliet Emily Dickinson Who that life was is clear: the wrist that moved near the table, the white dress in the shadow, sidestepping the square sunlight on the floor lest it burn the hem of it. Apples are pared and notes sent and the black stud is kept in the stable. Fires light her pillow. Morningtimes the garden smokes. September. September. September. Doors are kept ajar, but only so. The circus is outside the windows. The bread rises, ‘jelly is put in jars, the hand is on the newel. Shoes glide up the stairs and the small attic burns. Lake Zempoala They are not happy that the people have come. They trot up the creek and out onto the flat, stepping on their shadows, black manes and burnt umber, fat on mountain grass. The red bus from the Colegio Guadalupe commands the meadow. The people stand in a ring, playing kickball. Sometimes an Indian who sells bottled drinks wanders up the canyon to spread a burlap with white corn upon it. In this way he is able to lay a rope across the necks of two old mares and lead them down to the children and nuns. In the evening the people leave, their only message paper plates and tin cans. Clouds catch in the pine trees. The horses come down onto the meadow. They step into the silence. Their hoofs make no louder a sound than a pine cone dropping does, or first raindrops on dust, as they mouth the dampening grass. A Photograph I Backed by pasteboard and a warp of years you seem a small girl proper to seminaries you seem so straitly proportioned and your wrist sustains so delicately the false fenceprop. Our Dear Friend says: Hardly. You were big, bigboned to follow behind an ox, manly upon a horse, sheepfetcher, could heft a rifle through the brush, girl the hounds led, winter needlegrass and buffaloburrs festering your skirt. Onetime you wore a choker of red laurelbeans and acorns. But now your skirt is stiff and formal as leather, heavy with hips, this day prodded from seminary: you are posed as a lady: upheld in the stiff back, breasts under white blouse spattered with ‘Saturday lace, a cameo like a seal at your neck. II What is real, this or that other day outside this picture when you woke the sister here beside me now Goodmorning, went out to a sound of hounds, to such circles of morning light and found your self there caught halfway through the wire, the rifle hugged with sudden fact to let a blunt-tongued bullet through your breast, our mouth pressing kisses of dirt, \\ when your mother rocked you in halfcircles of her distress under a live oak and never spoke and pinched ripe burrs from your dress? III Doves in season fall. Helped by ringtails black persimmons fall, the call of hounds drops ringtails: October when red laurel beans, acorns of live oak fall. And the world is real. For Ramona Peebles and Lorita McBryde R. G. Vliet was a Spring, 1983 Dobie-Paisano Fellow. His most recent book of poems is Clem Maverick THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25
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