The middle-aged woman who processed our rental car was named Lolita and wished us a spirited: “Welcome to Houston, y’all.” The first music out of the radio was a mariachi band, followed by a few bars of Willie Nelson, and then Johnny Cash singing “Ring of Fire.” For the first time in three years we saw palmettos and sega palms, and heard a mourning dove’s call from a post oak at twilight. The mentally retarded sister of a friend hugged me and shouted a spirited: “Welcome to Houston, y’all.”After dark we drove past the house we lived in for three and a half years, and didn’t recognize the poodle in the front window.
On the plane I sat beside a Marine and read Yaacov Lozowick’s Right to Exist: A Moral Defense of Israel’s Wars and Anterooms by Richard Wilbur, who writes in the title poem:
“Still, it strains belief
How an instant can dilate,
Or long years be brief.”