By Mark Kraushaar
Featured Image: Mountain Landscape with Bridge by Thomas Gainsborough, 1783/1784
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington
Intellectual: Anyone who can listen to
Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell Overture
without thinking of the Lone Ranger.
—Laurie Taylor, sociologist
Sometimes I picture that foppish, fat Gioachino Rossini—
with his brocade shoes, his velvet-collared jacket and his satin vest.
But mostly I think of him stepping over the ocean, smiling
and rubbing his chubby palms and then, inexplicably,
standing on the porch of a modest family farm
and looking out at Bald Rock Dome or Sugar Pine Peak.
Beside him a poorish, but kindly, but cowardly widower
explains that just that morning a band of filthy varmints
burned his barn and shook him down for the last of his cash
and his only cow. Rossini listens but begins to hum
and just as he turns from the farmer to gaze back at the mountains
two handsome men gallop up and dismount.
The first, the one with the matching six-guns,
and black mask and elegant horse,
hands the farmer his recovered money.
The second man, his sidekick, a quiet Indian
dressed in buckskin and moccasins says:
Bad men go jail.
We ride kemo sabe?
Yes, Tonto, says the mysterious rider
and pausing only to wave
the two men speed away in a cloud of dust.
Once again the Italian Mozart looks out at the mountains
and begins to hum. Who was that stranger with the mask?
he asks, I wanted to thank him.
Mark Kraushaar has new work appearing in or forthcoming from AGNI, Yale Review, The Hudson Review and Ploughshares. A full-length collection, Falling Brick Kills Local Man was published by University of Wisconsin Press as winner of the 2009 Felix Pollak Prize. His most recent collection, The Uncertainty Principle, published by Waywiser Press, was chosen by James Fenton as winner of the Anthony Hecht Prize.
Originally appeared in NOR 17