Sweeping out the Store

Before the finality of his broom
and the open door he    pauses
to study the trails toing and froing
along the dusty sidewalk
some crossing this threshold
to buy supplies a pair or two
don’t stop head on past to the saloon
to rest a spell against the rail perhaps
then wander round to the stables
and the boy tending horses
but finding nothing they keep on
for the next town north.

South of here before he was ensnared
like a full moon in winter branches
he was nameless freely floating.
But once anchored as Nelson
and given a bed with fresh clothes
the last motes of Spanish drifting
from his brain why not imagine
brothers or uncles in search of him
or a sister dressed as a man
with a pistol tucked into her waist?

On the night sky he paints his parents’ fate:
drowned bandits Comanche
or just wandered off as he lay napping.
Tomorrow he’s to marry an Irish girl
from Missouri their children’s faces
will hint at the hidden river
flowing beneath his feet.



Charles G Lauder, Jr, is originally from Texas and has lived in the UK for over twenty years. His debut collection, The Aesthetics of Breath, was published by V.Press (https://vpresspoetry.blogspot.com/p/the-aesthetics-of-breath.html) in 2019, and he’s currently working on a second one.