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get to their feetthen stayed at their heels and chased them around the yard in continuous circles. They really didn’t like that so we had to yell: “Leave the dogs alone!” The rabbit usually minded us although there seemed to be a certain in-your-face twist to her hop as she turned away. She would scratch hard at grass roots beneath the almost tree and then, rather luxuriously, stretch out on her belly in a damp cool spot. The dogs were always gladand so were wewhen she finally settled down. MEDITATION ON A PHOTOGRAPH I was seated at my desk when I happened to glance up from the typewriter to a framed picture on the wall. It was a composite of three photographs my wife had taken some years agoneatly spliced together so that it stretched out like one of those wide-angle pictures made of a high school graduating class. The picture showed a dozen or so red Hereford cows, grazing during a summertime afternoon in front of our fam ily’s hill country hunting cabin. I looked at the sleek-bellied Herefords, the live oaks and their pools of shade, the background greenery of the other pasture live oaks, cedars, and sycamores. It was a ranch land pastoral that had been a part of my life since childhood, and as I stared at itframed, familiar, sereneI tried to plumb its depths. I got up, stood closer. On the summer day when the photograph was taken, I was just out of camera range, and now I was inches away from those same imperturbable cows thatnoses to the grasswere still oblivious of the rusted barrel beside the fence, the boards and logs of the back corral, the arching live oak limbs, the sunlight and show streaks and sky. What was going on that day? What remained unspoken about it that needed to be said? I remembered sitting in the cabin doorway on a similar summer day, reading the letters of Isak Dinesen to her friends and family. She wrote about the animals, the people, the landscapes of her farm in Kenya as she later wrote about them in Out of Africa, and I had thought that without too much of a strain or shift of reality her descriptions would have been appropriate for the hills and pastures and arroyos of the Texas hill country. I finally turned away from the picture to other things, and it was two weeks laterreading a letter Henry Miller once wrote to Anais Ninthat I came to understand that what the picture framed was my unrecoverable Eden. Miller had written that in the beginning, yes, there was the Word, but for the Word to appear there had to be a parting, a separation from the original innocence, and that the Word is always seeking out the first, more perfect state. In my cabin-lot picture the red cows, the constant trees, the summer sky are as silent as Adam and beyond the reach of words. They are simply there, in their perfect equilibrium: forever lost to me behind glass. Elroy Bode lives in El Paso, where he teaches in the public school system. 6/20/03 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31