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San Antonio, Texas

May 9, 2011


Dear Readers,

I walk my dogs daily along the river. I'd been complaining about progress — the river renovation, I mean. How it has ruined the natural habitat behind my house where for years snakes and possums and raccoons kept out the two-legged creatures. But I have to admit the Parks Department of San Antonio has done a beautiful job. First we had to live with the landscape mowed down to stubble, like someone's scalp after they've discovered lice. But this year the wild flowers have come up and made the river banks a field of color. Especially the sunflowers, which now are taller than me. Wild birds we never saw before have descended and joined the ducks and cranes and egrets.

This morning my dogs and I walked down the hill through pathways only wide enough to graze our shoulders/haunches. There were violet flowers with starburst heads, and little butter-colored flowers smaller than pearl shirt buttons, and sunflowers waving in the wind like flags, all wondrous and startling.

I think my walk down the river is the best part of my day. We end up always at the sacred Texas cypress featured prominently in my upcoming Have You Seen Marie? book, which Ester Hernandez is busy illustrating this very minute. We hope to see the book in print by next autumn.
The tree has magnificent roots and several orifices — mouths, belly button, ears, womb. From one, a sunflower is sprouting. I like to sit here and watch my dogs swim or sniff or disappear in the brush till I whistle and round them up. It is a gift to sit here and think.

The neighbors know I'm about because my Chihuahua, Chamaco, is always disappearing and refusing to come when I call "Chamaco, Chamaco!" up and down the river. He has eyes made of Chiapan amber and is as round as those clay dogs from Colima. Where does Chamaco go that warrants a scolding every day? I don't know. We each lose ourselves out there for moments or minutes.

I had a mole on my ribs the size of a jelly bean I had my dermatologist remove last week. Moles like this grow slowly so that you don't take notice, but someone who had never seen it before advised me to get it burned away. And so now I have a hole in my side as if I'd taken a bullet. Well, not quite, but at least a nick.

It was an easy surgery, over in a second, but my doctor forgot to tell me how long it would take to heal. I have a similar wound inside my heart right now. Just as tender and raw, except I have no ointment to salve it. I think it requires poetry.

Maybe all pain in the world requires poetry. Write two poems and call me in the morning. That's my prescription for you today, world, and for me.