by Larry Brody
NOTE FROM LB:
From The Return of the Navajo Dog, some memories from Gwen the Beautiful’s late grandmother, Jesse Manns, of her life in Oklahoma, back in the day.
He was a traveler, my husband was. We
Didn’t have much money, but the minute he got
A dime it was, “C’mon, honey, let’s go,”
And off we went in that old Ford. God! You’d
Think a coal miner’d want a day off or two
When he had a chance, but not Jack. He had
To move, even if it meant breakin’ down on old
Route 66. And brother, did we ever break down.
Never in the warm part of the year, no, he was
Workin’ then, down in the earth like a mole,
Coughin’ and cuttin’ and earnin’ his pay. No,
We went West in the winter, just ahead of the
Spring. Twenty inches of snow in April, and Jack
And me pullin’ over to wait it out with no heat.
We’d cuddle together. He was warm, my husband
Was, I’ll give him that. Warm to the touch, and
Warm to the heart. He’d hold me, and laugh,
And tell me not worry. He’d lick the icicles off
My nose, and didn’t care how much colder
I got. After the storm was over, Jack flagged
Down an old Indian in a truck, borrowed his
Shovel to dig us out. That’s when we found
Out we were in a ditch. That’s when the
Front axle snapped like a hen’s neck
When we needed her meat more than
Her eggs. Know what that man did? He laughed
Some more, and wrapped his arms around me
‘Til I stopped my cryin’. One time we was up
North of Flagstaff, I don’t remember the name
Of the town, and a tire blew out. No spare,
Of course, couldn’t have afforded that and
This little trip. I didn’t know what to do,
But he got one of his ideas. A real
Travelin’ idea as a matter of fact. There
Was some railroad tracks nearby, and Jack
Drove us over to ‘em, flubbity flub, flubbity flub.
Took off all the tires, my traveler did, and got that
Ford up on the rails. Well, that was a sight,
Believe you me, us in the old car, zoomin’ up the
Tracks. We didn’t know where we was goin’,
Or if a train was gonna come, or anything like that,
But it didn’t matter to Jack. All that mattered
Was we were on our way!
Nothin’ held us back, no sir. We was always on our way.
I’d tell him and tell him how much I wanted
Some peace, a chance to just enjoy
Where we was. I’d tell him how I didn’t
Want to go out in the cold. But there’d be
That laugh again. From ‘way down deep
Inside him, skinny chest, flat belly, loins, that big laugh
Would come, and he’d lie to me and say
How’d he’d got the Ford all fixed up,
And off we’d go. Jack’s been dead more’n’
Twenty years, but still I go travelin’, California
In the winter, to live with my daughter.
Back home to Oklahoma in May. God, how I
Thought I hated them days. But now
They’re more real than my next old lady pain,
And so warm, just like him.
Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. Although the book whose cover you see above is for sale on Kindle, he is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.