Dancing at the Silver Dollar

By day it was a big dreary barn of a place,
but at night it was lit up like stars on the prairie,
the only hot spot in Bandera, a town fed
by dude ranches and tourist trade
with old west storefronts and wooden sidewalks
just like the movies, stores that sold boots
and Stetsons and moccasins, all the attire
of weekend cowboys and cowgirls
who flocked on Saturday nights to the dance hall
called the Silver Dollar, where the steel guitar
sent shivers up your spine like a breeze in the live oaks,
and the women twirled and the men sashayed,
and the sheriff moseyed in with a .38 riding
like a small boat on the fleshy sea of his right hip
as I worked up the nerve to ask the girl to dance
with an outbreak of psoriasis on her right hand
my father said I shouldn’t mention and didn’t.
She was seven and I was eight—the full extent
of our conversation as we circled the room
doing the two-step, cute as proverbial buttons,
with the whisper of moccasins and the stomping of boots
not quite heaven but close as I’d ever come
to the leathery heart of Texas.