By Ansie Baird
Featured Art: Man holding a horse by the bridle by Dirck Stoop
My father flew to Reno, Nevada, sixty
solemn years ago to sue for a divorce.
I had no idea where Nevada was or
why my parents were divorcing.
In the mail arrived a shiny photograph,
my father sitting tall on a horse.
I had no idea he knew how to ride.
He carried a rifle across his lap and
on his head he’d set a cowboy hat.
He was smiling like all-get-out.
I had no idea what there was to smile about.
He stayed away six weeks, at some
dude ranch where rattlesnakes curled
and lurked in the underbrush. I lived
in a cluttered city house without
rattlesnakes or a father. My mother
packed up all our winter coats and boots
and sold the house. We moved into a flat.
After that, everything was touch-and-go.
Reno was a place I planned to boycott.
Sixty years later, I’m at the Reno airport
waiting for a connection,
uncertain when it’s taking off.
All of us seem to be divorced.
Slot machines clack at my elbow,
crowds of men in cowboy hats lurk
in plush corridors, looking like they
might be someone’s father.
Ansie Baird’s poems have been published a number of times in The Paris Review, as well as in The Southern Review, The Denver Quarterly, The Quarterly, Western Humanities Review, and a number of other journals. Her book, In Advance Of All Parting, won the White Pine Press national poetry competition and was published by White Pine Press in 2009. In September of 2016, her second full-length collection of poems, The Solace of Islands, was published by BlazeVOX Press. In addition, in 2016, she was one of four poets included in Outriders Press book entitled Four Buffalo Poets. Her latest collection, entitled Porch Watch, was published by The Foundling Press in May of 2019.
Originally appeared in NOR 20.