She was the kind of Texas woman
who didn’t have two cents to rub,
but if she could manage to find
a handful of shiny nickels, she’d win
enough at a slot machine in Vegas
to buy groceries for her family for a week.
I was walking with her when she conjured
a twenty from under a fist-sized rock
on Rincon Road in nineteen sixty-nine,
I rode shotgun when we had to pray
our way home on a shallow sniff of gas
in the worst rainstorm that summer.
She could puff a breath on her fingers,
then take out ten pins- ball scooting
down the alley like it was hypnotized,
ready to slam itself against the back wall,
she’d take sucker bets without a miss
for hours, even trick shots with a blindfold.
She lost only two things: me, to a yankee,
and her life in single hand. She tried hard
to let ride for another round of hold 'em
but cancer is the house that always wins.
When her will was read, luck wasn’t in it,
she must’ve used it all up in the end.