By Lionel Garcia. Huntsville: Texas Review Press, 2004. ISBN 1-881515-62-1 paper $12.95 5 1/2x8. 88 pages. http://www.shsu.edu/~www_trp/ Winner of the 2003 Texas Review Poetry Prize.
The widely acclaimed and successful writer, Lionel Garcia reflects on his rearing and heritage of his homeland, the brush country of Southwest Texas. Garcia’s poems begin with notices of the countryside – the dry, nearly barren land, with the cenizo and frijollo in bloom, a rabbit licking moisture from the leaves, and a red-tail hawk, a green jay, and a feeding deer. “The brush speaks to me / The voice is hard and strong, like the people.” The infrequent rain is almost mythological for the condemned. But there’s dancing on Saturday night at the ranch. The boys go off to war. His horse, Rocinante, dies and his grandfather works away from home. He struggles between sport and food with the killing of a deer. A dove, the wind, and a pelican lift him and leave him to be “I am the door at a Brush Country house.”
For a riding accident, the horse is killed to regain control of life forces, else what stability is there in life. A child dies, and the death is ascribed to God’s will, and the child is better dead than in this hard life, else what stability is there in life. A cowbell rings as if announcing the birds’ flight of fate. The priest reprimands the poor parishioners for risqué clothing, but even “God cannot change the fates of life.” Pacho intimates with Maria. The oilmen come, the hunter goes, and Garcia wonders about yesterday. A crazy woman cries for her children. A father denies his hunger.
Throughout a dry, persistent love lingers in the shadows. The cenizo and frijollo scent the air. Garcia concludes “How beautiful to live without / Remorse of what could have been.” Else, the reader may wonder what stability is there in life. Would you love the caliche upon which you were born?