I came home because my father was dead.
My mother married his brother
who owned the land I was born on.
It was marriage carried with it such spoils.
Who can say he loved my mother
more than the wealth of a thousand acres?
My uncle, the villain, duped my mother.
Irene Castenada saved my sad soul.
She knew her father’s mind: he said Manuel
was murdered by mustangs trapped in a box
canyon, where my uncle’s men had held them
while he went to bring my father out there,
he and his men suddenly moving off
to one side, hooves pounding my father’s head
into the alkali waste, the thick dust . . .
I took my uncle and mother to town
to sit through a performance of Hamlet.
Shakespearean players wandered from town
to town in days that seem gone forever.
Beside me Irene loved Ophelia,
though they bore not the slightest resemblance.
When the troupe arrived on stage and Hamlet
vowed to trap the conscience of the new king
in the mousetrap of the play set for him,
Irene gasped, Dios mio! and we saw
my uncle rise halfway through to sweep up
the aisles as the audience turned to watch
him bluster through the door, the mousetrap sprung.
You know the rest, reader, how my uncle’s
hired gun shot me and Irene saved me,
throwing her body over mine
as my Horatio, my friend Horace,
shot the man and my uncle, my mother
twice widowed now. Irene never believed
I’d marry her, I asked her and she did.
Horace managed the ranch that stretched as far
as the eye could see, there was so little
to see other than the land in those days.
I gave Irene the children she gave me.
I sat in the crisp air of the first light
pondering with a pen what I had learned
in life as brief as mine had been thus far.
(30 March 2013)
copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander