What is night time to a five-year old
in warm mountains?
The house was on a bluff under
You cannot imagine the air
if you weren't there.
Town was a rifle-shot down the road.
Movies had just been moved indoors
and a Lebanese family ran the show.
The coal mines were destroying the place.
Kids running through the woods
would run into stills
and just run on.
What is a still to a five-year-old
except a sign to mind your own business
which was running and playing
with Injun ghosts
who knew Daniel Boone
and dead feuders
and cool pools of water in shade
alive with crayfish,
with endless simpicities & complications?
Father—many locals still used Pappy--
knew the Lebanese, or were they Greeks?--
who would have us to supper sometimes
when the B westerns
that toured with their cowboy stars
took the stage
facing a jolly crowd
from ten miles away
armed just as they arrived.
After supper once
two cowboys who
took up acting
let the five-year-old
and brother unholster
heavy and shiny and bluish black.
“Could you put a bullet
through that keyhole over there?”
“Well, sure,” one of them said,
taking the revolver back.
He wasn't lying
and wasn't shooting.
“Do you know Tom Mix?”
“Well, sure,” one them said
and wasn't talking.
Hill folk families
came in from their
carrying their guns and shoes.
Someone sent Father
a carton of Maine oysters by mail.
It stunk up the PO for days.
Father laughed at the goddamned fool
who tried to send fresh oysters through
“He's a good man and a good friend,
with a good heart,” he said,
“But there isn't much upstairs.”
Mother had one of those tightly held back
glowing small smiles.
The night the mountains burned
we were surrounded by fire
as if the stars had fallen molten & burning
on the hills.
What does a five-year-old know
of danger and disaster in Christmas lights?
E. A. Costa 3 July 2015 Granada, Nicaragua