Because the air is very smoky here today

The sky is innocent enough but the dust, the dust is coming from some place I’ve never been and calling me to a place that is only a memory, and a collective one at that. I’m solidly focused on trying to place one foot in front of the other, calmly, resolutely, to make it look like this is easy, to make it look as though I’m not trying to ignore the horses cantering and the cattle grazing and the women in long skirts going about their business through my mind. But then a guitar comes from an open door, a guitar and a voice, and the only reason that I know the door is open is the music because I’m still staring resolutely at my feet, but “steeeel guitars from Memphis on the way to rock ‘n rollllllllll…” makes me look up, and back, briefly, and I see the figure in the worn jeans and sturdy belt and pale cowboy hat the color of a steer you might rope at the county rodeo and smoking what I’m certain must be Marlboroughs And I stop in my tracks for a moment, an instant, short enough that the kid behind me thinks that I’m still walking, because I hear the man in the jeans and the belt and the hat asking me the whereabouts of the young buck cowboy I lost years ago and who owns the horses he saw cantering and the cattle he saw grazing and whether I’m friends with the women in long skirts going about their business. But it’s a quarter to nine o’clock and I keep walking as though I don’t know the answers to his questions, no, sir, you’ve got the wrong girl.

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