A month ago this small west Texas town
with a single crossroad and railroad track
looked empty and barren
except for Mary’s café and a small Czech bakery.
Faded letters on abandoned red brick buildings
hinted of better times long ago.
Wind tossed tumbleweeds danced along dusty
cobble stones, gone as soon as they came.
A spiny-back lizard scurried over crossties
and vanished behind a weathered log.
A little more than a year ago wildfires raged close by;
racing down from the ridge west of town.
Now a mosaic of white ash on gray scorched earth
mingles with black barren mesquite tree skeletons.
This near ghost town was almost lost to conflagration.
A few days ago I sped down the lonely road
past fields green from recent rains
to this little town with its six man football team
for a homecoming celebration.
Like butterflies from cocoons
cheering crowds lined streets while
proud parade participants jostled in queues
waiting for the grand marshal to wave them on.
Mounted riders waved to smiling faces and cheering friends.
Riders sat on saddles gleaming with silver Conchos
sitting tall and proud as hooves clip-clopped on cobble stone streets.
Out came motorcycles side-by-side,
boys on bicycles, tractors, golf carts, atvs and lawn mowers
and the procession inched on.
Along came cheerleaders in pickup trucks tossing beads
horded by bystanders who waved for more.
Next came, old cars and new cars, fire trucks and a stagecoach.
The procession inched on.
Last in line was the 1st Cavalry detachment,
its mounted soldiers riding two-by-two,
their captain led the way—
young men wearing wide brim hats,
blue shirts, gray trousers and black boots.
After the parade everyone moseyed
over to the town pavilion where
folks were meeting and greeting
recalling memories from long ago.
Barbeque, potatoes salad
and iced tea nourished those gathered
while talk returned to stories
of those who have passed on.
After hugs and handshakes
and encouraging words
the crowd dissolved
leaving a near empty town.
Mary’s Café siphoned off some
while kolaches at the Czech bakery drew away others.
Traffic trickled to an occasional passing car,
and the regular rumble of a passing train.
©2012 Richard L Weatherly