blackbirdonline journalSpring 2010  Vol. 9  No. 1
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Jesús and the Snowman

It’s a west–Texas thing:
three Delco car batteries strapped to a switch lighting a line of icicles.
Draped from barbed wire.

As far north or south as a man can walk in a night,
a clutter of jackrabbit holes and arroyos,
cactus and yucca,
sand too coarse to be good,
too dry to be dirt.

A plastic snowman guards the south end of the illuminated line.
Cheerful in its green tie and top hat, its buttons and broom, carrot nose. 
Ridiculously round.
The balls of its head and chest light up the sage
like St. Elmo’s fire.

Decoration for the chiggers and toads, fire ants and lizards.
For the ones who cross at night,
taught by word of mouth to know it as a beacon,
a place to meet at 3 a.m.,
where, after fanning out for 10 miles or more,
they can regroup, drink some water, fan out again.

It’s 5 am when Jesús finds the snowman.
It should be cold, but it’s warm.
He huddles against it, stone eyed and afraid,
trying to look past the snowman’s lasso of light.

There are three figures moving toward him,
silhouettes in wide-brimmed hats against a pale horizon.
Hearing them before he sees, knowing he will want to be erect,
Jesús stands, tries to button up a smile.  end

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