Little Goodbyes

Letter From Texas

The sun is breaking through, the dark green grass shimmering as it is swept back and forth by the wind like the mane of a wild mustang running along a plain.  Down here, near Madisonville along I-45 South, the rains had come hard and heavy.  The roadside is aglow in the white sunlight with the orange-reds of the Indian paintbrushes, the pinks of the buttercups, and the tall, bright stems of the Texas state flower, the bluebonnet.

The land has changed from the prairies and cross-timbers of North Texas to the heavy thickets and piney woods of the southeast corner of the Lone Star state.  Soon, I’ll pass Huntsville.  Maybe I’ll see the prisoners in white working at what we used to call the “pea farm,” with Stetsoned men on horseback, shotguns in hand, watching, the sun reflecting off of their mirror sunglasses; the prisoners stooped over; the horses standing tall.

The brightness of the sun glaring on something ahead makes me reach for my shades, and I see the reflection of my arm in the window, the trees and grass and flowers and fenceposts sliding by.  I wave at them and listen to the music, a haunting duet by Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan from when I was a schoolboy and never thought of saying goodbye:

If you’re traveling in the North Country fair,

Where the wind blows heavy at the borderline

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