Post Road Magazine #7

Mr. Sweatner's Parade by David Daniel

Mr. Sweatner puts his cart before
His snow-eyed mule and pulls them
Down the field roads of Friendship, Texas,
Dragging cans . . .
Wake up! he cries. Let's get on with it!
These were the words
My grandfather used to rouse
Him and the other Mexicans who'd lived
In the wetback shed across the cattleguard.
Long ago, Mr. Sweatner's son fell from a tractor
And was baled with the maize,
And a year later his wife and child
Died in childbirth. On that night
He hammered his sixty-five chinchillas
To death and left their skinned bodies
In a pile alive with green flies.
So if he's now come back to gather
The dead Mexicans, and only them,
We ought to forgive his insolence–
Because there is no guilt here–and rather
Follow to where he takes the dead ones:
Some place still not owned, but forever theirs •

David Daniel is the poetry editor of Ploughshares and a songwriter. His book, Seven-Star Bird, is forthcoming any day now from Graywolf Press. He will be touring the country promoting both the book and a cd for most of 2004.

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