Jackalopes: Texas Part 3

The wind is pulling at the reeds along the creek, brushing its fingers across limestone pebbles spilled from lava flows millennia ago. Wednesday people pass by with dogs, outlined in swimsuit straps, Lonestar cans cradled in the crook of an arm.

Lowering ourselves gingerly to spring water purges, the dichotomy of late afternoon sun and water welling up to see the light of day — we sit on the banks and watch dogs splash and mark territories. Everyone marking territory, claiming their own sketched-out spot amid the rises and high rises beyond.

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Photo by J. Max Hunt

The wind is turning the backs of leaves for its amusement; nature is caught in the pillory of impetuous comings and goings, filling in the spaces around human monuments to the illusion of permanence. As if such fairytales could live long in this place of swallowing spaces….

Later, a night of booze and stripsteak: transplants and natives dancing around their common placement, orbits pushing gravities into contention like barrel-chested roosters on the run. Talk of homes — Jersey swamps and poverties; the lakes of Minnesota; visions of Christmas in the Yucatan; Rochester earnestness baked into good ole’ Texas ribaldry.

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Photo by J. Max Hunt

Stripped down in the dark, tempo of chest rising and falling, I ask Charise to tell me of the Jackalope — deer-horned rabbit trickster slinking across the plains, eyes open for its daily dose of discarded whiskey. Aways the honest thief, they say if you catch him in the act, but offer indulgence anyway, the Jackalope will grant you a wish or sing you a song in its sweet tenor. But heavier so often is the call to wish in dreaming, and few seekers ever find its snout brushing the sweating glass from curled fingers in waking life.

Chupacabras range back and forth across the border, indifferent to flags and tongues, mocking solid walls — all sheep scream in the same language; all blood dries the same color on hairs of the chinny-chin chin. Southern cousin of the Jersey Devil and Vampire, prodigal harpy son. A great stand-in for things seen but vaguely in the dark reaches of Texas nights, the implied explanation for why a thing dies.

Fallen deaf to the world but for La Llorona, the woman who weeps on the banks of warm rivers. Legend has it she cries for drown children or a lost lover, arms outstretched to the wayward youth who strays too close to the midnight water’s edge. Poor, sad madre o corazón desperado —  cautionary tale to careless children, payer of some devil’s due to unstick yourself from time’s tragedy, offer sacrifice in stead, and return the fruit of your loins to the cradle on the bough.

Wind now answers the last failing thoughts before sleep, stirring the distant moans of women somewhere in the night, great flying monsters and horn-y rodents casted along back patio shadow theaters. Beneath the folds of the moon, Texas mythology is stirring, crawling like a lizard towards the lamp.

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