He led her to the tall grass around the pool and held the reins while she grazed, watching how she took great mouthfuls, working the bit with her tongue so that it didn’t interfere with chewing the grass.
But it was more than a body count; the lies devoured white hearts, and for more than two hundred years white people had worked to fill their emptiness; they tried to glut the hollowness with patriotic wars and with great technology and the wealth it brought.
A strange paralysis accompanied his thoughts; a sudden overwhelming fatigue took hold, and his heart pounded furiously, and he panted trying to walk only a few feet from the place he had tied the mare.
In the distance up ahead he occasionally caught glimpses of the cattle, trotting steadily; they appeared in clearings and disappeared into oak thickets again, still following the south boundary fence to the east.
But the effects were hidden, evident only in the sterility of their art, which continued to feed off the vitality of other cultures, and in the dissolution of their consciousness into dead objects: the plastic and neon, the concrete and steel.
Under his feet the dark mountain clay was saturated, making it slippery and soft; the ranch roads would be impassable with sticky mud, and it would be days before the cowboys could patrol the fences again.
He found flowers that had no bees, and gathered yellow pollen gently with a small blue feather from Josiah’s pouch; he imitated the gentleness of the bees as they brushed their sticky-haired feet and bellies softly against the flowers.
He nodded at Robert, but he was involved with other things: memories and shifting sounds heard in the night, diamond patterns, black on white; the energy of the designs spiraled deep, then protruded suddenly into three-dimensional summits, their depth and height dizzy and shifting with the eye.
All things seemed to converge there: roads and wagon trails, canyons with springs, cliff paintings and shrines, the memory of Josiah with his cattle; but the other was distinct and strong like the violet-flowered weed that killed the mule, and the black markings on the cliffs, deep caves along the valley the Spaniards followed to their attack on Acoma.
At home the people would blame liquor, the Army, and the war, but the blame on the whites would never match the vehemence the people would keep in their own bellies, reserving the greatest bitterness and blame for themselves, for one of themselves they could not save.
But she said that now the women at Church came to her privately, after mass or before the bingo games, to ask her how she had managed all those years to face the troubles which had been dropped into her lap.