Psychopomp Magazine Summer 2016 | Page 29

Jason Marc Harris | 29

Jason Marc Harris

The Handle

For as many times as we’d watched pinprick-stars wink from darkness, we’d sensed those black skies stared back at us too.

Not until late October at the end of the potato harvest did one of our own—Jimmy Bell—find proof we weren’t alone.

Because of his discovery, we became what we now are. Bonded beyond blood and bone.

Make no mistake, most of us have deep roots in the Alkali Hills out past Marfa towards Van Horn and El Paso. Jimmy’s family tromped around patty-plopping longhorns for generations. How many Bell cowboys gazed at stars so gauzy white they pierced through furred blackness while slant-eared gaunt coyotes whined at the Texas moon? It fit that fourteen-year-old Jimmy Bell would be the one to find what he called, “the Handle.” Of course he’d call it that. Practical young fellow born from practical folks: railroad workers, petroleum engineers, Houston businessmen.

Jim Breckenridge Bell also had the McFarlands on his mother’s side. Scottish Border Reivers, cattle and goat ranchers, Texas Rangers—all bold folks inclined to passion whether on one side of the law or the other. They too had looked at the sky thousands of times for answers, pondering questions about life, love, money, sex, God, and death. Simpler in the old days. Got out and grabbed what you wanted, Thogail nam Bo theid sinn—“to lift the cows we will go”—but waning of starlight has seen us all fall into more philosophical times. Big government. Small souls.

Only once did stars’ silver eyes send something down from the cosmic dark, which we always wondered was womb or tomb. It came to us, and we grabbed it—Jimmy did. Bold boy.