Waxahachie, and my father has driven me
south across the viaduct to the little café
closed on Sunday, so we wait out front.
I know what kind of day it will be,
traveling home to the Valley by bus.
There will be spots of red along the way
because my mind will need them
against the boredom: brick lining an old well,
leaves of sumac, a mailbox flag,
a red-winged blackbird riding sorghum.
There will be stern federal-style homesteads
against the sky, and trailer-houses
with dogs on couches in yards, as well as
ruffled lone birds on fence posts, calves
in muddy pens. Then I’ll notice a blue bicycle
in front of a post office. On farther south will be
Pickens Auto Ranch and Merle’s Front End Service.
At dusk, after Austin, San Antonio, and finally,
Alice, ("just twenty minutes, folks") we will enter
the Valley, and pity the northbound line at the checkpoint.
But now my father and I are small-talking,
to take up the ache starting already in our hearts.
The fairy-tale courthouse clock strikes,
and we go silent in mid-sentence, as if
counting to eight is important …
Suddenly the bus bounds in. My ticket is made.
My dad and I do a careful public hug.
Then he says to me, an adult woman—
"This gentleman will take good care of you,"
and gestures to the driver he’s never seen.
This poem first appeared in theTexas Poetry Calendar 2009.
Used here with the author’s permission.