Aunt Viola
by Clarence Wolfshohl

In the bookstore in the bahnhof
in Mainz are rows of tales
of the Wild West the Germans love.
I cannot read my ancestral tongue,
but imagine Fritzes riding full gallop
across Texas prairie and Ottos
facing down Black Bertolds on the streets
of San Antonio, his six-gun clear
of the holster before Bertold blinks.

A cover with a blonde cowgirl
astride a pinto pony make me
remember—as all the old German voices
I’ve heard these past days—the tales
of my own Wild West Germans,
the Texas Germans, as the lady
in Braunfels smiled when I told her
my great-great-grandfather had gone
to Texas in 1845.

The story I recall is of an aunt
I never knew, the only girl
of eight children, the golden haired
heroine of her seven brothers’ tales.
How they lowered their voices
when they told how she could ride,
a Teutonic Annie Oakley who missed
her horse’s beat one time
and never rode again.

She became their Wild West legend
to hold close and sing in ballads.
Now, they are gone, fallen
from their saddles by age, and who
remembers the Texas German horse
maiden but me in this bookstore in Mainz.


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