Return to Montana My split-rail fence holds air and totters like el senior Quixote. Exeunt the Cowboy Chorus their riatas, their graceful hoolihans. Seven years now in recovery, Jose goes below. "Big rocks're gone," his pry-bar rings and bends, Jose pries the maw, "the old days rocks they were rocks," but I deny my role in the touristing of the West, viz., the number fourteen camas buffalo, and query this Jose, How about over there? "Oh humps and tongues," laments Jose. Out here in the dust we're seeing a return to glassy stones-sapphire, jade, some two- and three quart Carmelite. "Don't think so," frowns Jose, gazing arm's length on a skull of beryl cauliflower, a.k.a. 'bean poke', its creamy matrix sweating drips and rivulets of gold. "See?" exhorts our expert, my heart aflutter: "Looks real, but she Taiwanese." Ah, and how many times have I picked up and discarded real gold assuming Taiwanese? In sobriety Jose's regained his dentist's eye, but now, now the cobbled afterthought. His coffee breath exhumes belief -- not French roast; the canned stuff Thursdays - and draws me in. I would endure the bitterness of Ruth for one taste of the real thing. "Look at here," his gray, goose-egg cobble in its atmosphere. Clouds part - a tiny acreage, a hillside blanketed in snow, and seven ponderosa leaning to the sky, their actual shadows this afternoon all aiming north. "This one," says Jose, "she wants listening to," and probes the botany with an otoscope. "Turn him up, Omar!" bellows our Jose, and from the maw below the fence a strangled voice: "This better?" Ergo wind. A vowel of forgotten sage, of lavender pinon smoke and blown snow arguing up the hill then sitting down again, of silence. Goats now, their ancient bells.
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