In a Texas Bar (for Don Americo Paredes, 1915-1999)
by Rachel Jennings

We must have
agreed, Professor,
not to meet
on the cold range
of classes and office hours
but here
in this profane
hole in the wall
where adults
who are neither friends
nor strangers
can reach their pain
in drunk-fiery eyes
that blaze like six-shooters
across the trembling table.

We must not drink this salty sea
in a gulp. The secret is to respect ritual.

A word, a glance,
is the entire dance.

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