She sat on the tailgate
of an old green Ford,
her narrow denim clad hips
wedged between an Igloo cooler
and a box of faded red rags.
Scuffed boots swinging.
The whoop whoop of a siren
heralded the coming display
of a starched color guard,
eliciting a respectful salute,
flag etiquette for the young.
Then came beauty queens smiling,
perching precariously on the
pinnacle of a tissue paper
decorated semi-trailer in gowns
of taffeta, satin, and lace.
Tiaras glittering in the sun.
She waved at those high school
princesses, pulling funny
faces to make them laugh.
That was her talent, after all.
Hardly anyone took her
seriously as the parade passed.
Marching bands from rival
schools vied for favor
as the sun heated the summer
Texas day; twirlers in spangled
shorts tossing batons inspired
ooohs and ahhs from the crowd.
Reaching inside the battered
Igloo, she dug deep, found an
icy cold Schlitz and disguised
it with a red rag. The Baptists
sitting at the curb on either
side would cluck if they knew.
A string of politicians came next,
esconced in the finest vehicles
the local car dealers could offer;
bright smiles plastered on their
faces as their well-coifed wives
wilted in the climbing heat.
Following close behind came tykes
wobbling on bikes, spokes decorated,
festooned with ribbons and crepe
paper and baskets overflowing
with flags or stuffed animals. She
called out each name as they passed.
Finishing her beer, she craned her
neck to see tractors and combines in
John Deere green compete with those of
International Harvester red in a show of
the latest in agricultural technology.
The parade’s low point, she thought.
At last she heard the clip clopping of
hooves on the WPA bricked street and the
bright clanging of a bell, as the old cowpoke,
Zeke, sang out. Smiling she popped the top
on another Schlitz, hopped down from the
rusty tailgate, and joined the parade.