I WORE A CHARLES PLYMELL T-SHIRT By W.K. Stratton
I wore a Charles Plymell T-shirt –
Panik In Dodge City –
To the nursing home. The old man
Turned the color of raw shrimp.
He groaned and tottered an arm.
He feared window blinds.
No one else wore cowboy boots.
No one else wore ragged Levi’s.
No one else wore a Mexican belt.
I was the only one.
You don’t know how bad it is, he said.
The old man’s voice belonged
to someone else.
You ache like Texas, he said.
I can never make it to the kitchen, he said.
He closed his eyes. I walked outside.
I swallowed sunshine and rubbed
Wheat sky on my Charles Plymell t-shirt.
Every day is good for dying.
For a moment I slid off to harrowed fields
And bloodied dirt devils and Charley riding
In a tractor baby box. You still found
Open range in western Oklahoma
You could ride a horse to Hollywood
And never fight highway or fence.
Those times invented the old man
But never totaled anything for him.
He came up lost.
You don’t crane in boots and Mexican belt
For too long in land now foreign to you.
I peered down the nursing home ridge
Then took off in a blue automobile
praying to saddle and bridle.
I wore a Charles Plymell t-shirt.
It kept me breathing.