Its not that there is anything to regret about my family
sure there was divorce and alcoholism
and moving every six months
new schools, fewer friends perhaps, lack of self-confidence,
I suppose
sure there were step-dads and all the stuff that goes along with that
but I got to spend summers with my grandparents in the country
ride arond in old pickup trucks, learn to drive a tractor,
help de-horn cows
and climb up grapevines as big around as my forearm
and once I shot a bird with my bb gun
and was shocked to find it dead
so my sister and I buried it off to the side of the dirt driveway
where we played
and there were “horse-apples” bigger than softballs,
with their pebbly lime green skin,
what we called the osage orange, the fruit of the bois d’arc tree
that we cousins chose up sides and played with at being war canoneers.
And there was that old chinaberry tree outside Momma and Daddy Osie’s
bedroom window where I sat for hours
doing nothing in particular,
and the windmill drawing water out of the pond
I can still see and taste and smell and feel that pond
with its iron cold water
and its tiny frogs startled up out of the reed grass
when we walked up close to it
I can see it in my mind’s eye from the top of the windmill
and feel the cool breeze
on my face, still hear the pipe rod going up and down
priming that mysterious pump shaft
that I somehow knew was down there somewhere
drawing water out of the ground.
That is where I first began to understand
how machinery worked
and from Daddy Osie trying to explain things to me
the ways he took engines and cars and trucks apart
and tied things together with bailing wire
and shaved
horse hooves and birthed calves.
I guess it all got wound up on the same ball of string in my head
like my brain carries all those memories and impressions in there somewhere
waiting for them all to unravel and snake out across the sky
like some flock of wild birds
or bats all coming out of a tiny hole
at the entrance to a cave or the bottom of a bridge
somewhere in west texas where I can thank god and all my lucky stars that
I have nothing to regret about my family.


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