“This converse, at least, shall I have with you.”
-Ovid (Metamorphoses, 1.710)

A young couple stood at the fairgrounds’ entrance, pale, one on each side
passing leaflets faster than tickets sold and calling Put on the whole armor of God
that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil!

The man was as pointy as his new black cowboy boots, but the girl, all softness
a macramé pouch arcing across her rainbow-embroidered blouse with tiny mirrors
spilling over her breasts like Cassiopeia across the northern sky tonight.

Carnival lights sputtered, hypnotizing the men, in now from tobacco fields, they
clumped along as the sun gave up its claim on the day, their hair damp still
from half-hearted baths, juiced up and powdered now with carnie dust.

These pushed past but the brownest man took a pamphlet from her, stuffed it
down his back pocket with his box of Marlboros, smiled at the gringa, touched
his hat brim: a caballero without his horse.

Arroyos burned by the sun circled his eyes, relaxed yet wrinkled, maps
well-used that he couldn’t refold. His nose led him to the fried oil wafting
from fat elephant ears, the scent of home. He turns back toward the gate,

drawn by the girl’s flute like his goats that followed his evening song called
back from the hills in Chihuahua. No Arcadia here! No copper bells clang clink
for dancing, no stony trails! He holds his breath to listen—at least the reeds, at least.