Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Lariat by the Berm

Someone suggests stories are just
The way our minds happen to work,
Like the Krebs cycle—what we do
Perforce as the creatures we are.

Not sure about that. Alcohol
Digestion seems a closer trope—
Sneaking past blood-brain barriers,
Stirring pleasant and unpleasant

Havoc in frugivorous skulls.
But sure, lives without alcohol
Are more common in the species
Than lives absent all narratives.

Never mind metaphors for now.
What about all the non-stories,
The things that prompt people to say,
I’d like to know the story there,

Because there is no story there,
Just a few story-suggestive
Phenomena, loosely gathered,
Like the wayside memorial

On the road up through the mesas—
Wooden cross, bright plastic flowers,
A cairn, and, the curious touch,
A coil of braided lariat.

It’s been there for years, by a cliff
Of basalt sheer enough to use
For rolling off unwanted cars.
Rust heaps pile on the canyon floor.

Suicide? A too-sudden swerve?
A drunk? Just sleepy in the dark?
Pretend or actual cowboy?
Struck by a car while on horseback?

Some town council voted money
Recently to put up a berm
To shield the treacherous shoulder.
The construction crew was careful

Not to move the memorial.
The flowers, cross, and lariat
Still stand at the end of the berm.
There’s a tale there, in that there’s not.

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