This Is the Stuff Family Legends Are Made Of

We’re going to see Bob the Hindu, Dad said
that night he loaded us, thin silk of insensible
nightgowns, into the slick vinyl
of Dodge, drove the stretch
between home and Sublimity.

Then he grabbed the .45,
hustled us onto the porch
where a young wife stood,
hair impossibly black,
a dot of rouge marking
her forehead.

[to the sound of boots and orchard rustle
the young wife led us inside]

We weren’t afraid, Shelby and I,
though we were afraid of most everything.
But she must have been, knowing,
two daughters of her own to think of,
now two strange girls. No language between us.

It was a long time until they came back.
Dad, Bob the Hindu, and two others.
From the kitchen, broken
English and laughter, bottles clinked and passed,
Jack Daniels, someone’s cheap rum.  Hallelujah
in Dad’s thick Southern drawl.

        [Later Dad would testify
        that what had gone down was over walnuts
        and one of the outlaws had come to Jesus,
        pistol barrel in his mouth.]

While our father shared the Lord,
the young wife without words
brushed the first strokes of color
across our ragged nails.