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May 11th, 2017 under West Texas Talk » West Texas Talk Highlight
(photo courtesy of TEEL SALE) Teel Sale Among the Miniature Zebus

(photo courtesy of TEEL SALE) Teel Sale Among the Miniature Zebus

When a ramble inspires a poem

By LONN TAYLOR

I receive a lot of responses to my Rambling Boy columns by e-mail and occasionally even by letter, but a couple of weeks ago I received a poem. It came from Teel Sale, a retired professor of art at the University of North Texas who now lives in Ennis, Texas, with her husband, Rick Sale, who is also a poet. Teel, now in her 80s, makes art and writes poems and hilarious essays (in 1986 she created a one-of-a-kind artist’s book called Stringer’s Report on the Sesquee Senteniel, a spoof on the Texas Sesquicentennial; the only copy is in the Special Collections Division of the UNT Library). She is the author of Drawing: A Contemporary Approach, a college textbook that has gone through six editions. Rick not only writes poetry but operates a small press, the Trilobite Press, which publishes other peoples’ poetry. Their son, Tom Sale, is an artist who works under the name Pinky Diablo. He has shown work in Marfa and in 2013 won acclaim for “The Florence Project”, a surrealistic assemblage about the life of Florence Nightingale that he installed at the Webb Gallery in Waxahachie. Tom’s wife, Dottie Love, raises miniature Zebu cattle, which Tom refers to as “living lawn ornaments.” The Sales are the most creative family I know.

Teel and I have a special relationship because we share the same birthday (Rick and my wife, Dedie, also share a birthday). When I asked her to tell me something about herself for this column, she wrote, “I make works on paper: drawing, printmaking, collage. I have always thought of my work, both graphic and verbal, as a reclamation project, finding, salvaging, reclaiming, reconstituting, recollecting, reframing. My greatest claim to art fame is that I am the mother of Pinky Diablo and wife of the Sunrise Kid. I live on a miniature Zebu miniature ranch on Krajca Road south of Dallas. At age 83 I began writing poems daily, an addiction that continues. Among my sources for poems are ‘Rambling Boy’ and political atrocities.”

Teel was inspired to write the following by a Ramble I wrote a few weeks back about the stories of Hispanic Marfans of an earlier generation that could be found at the Marfa Public Library. She tells their stories better than I did.

 

MEMORIAS DE MARFA

ESCRITAS IN PIEDRA

I.

Petra, Bentura Contreras’s 90-year old widow

Remembers the names of Bentura’s mules

In the 1890s

Bentura, adventurer and mule driver

Drove mules in the Big Bend

Up and down the Rio Grande

From Marfa to Ruidoso to Presidio

Their names sound like bells

La Soranda

La Naranja

La Maja

La Sota

La Nica

La Pola

La Nene

La Tare

El Sarco

La Conga

El Tortolo

El Venado & El Negro

The 14th was a mare named La Paolmina

La Paolmina whose ringing bells kept

The mule team close to her on their long drives

Petra gave 4 silver bells to the Stone Tower

Built in memory of Bentura and his mules

Silver bells made by Bentura’s brother Silvestre

Who worked in the silver mines

In Terlingua and Ojinaga along the Rio Grande

Petra says she hears them

Ringing on silvery nights

When the moon is full

Tio Cisco, Francisco Fuentes

Was born in the Sierra Madre

In 1839

First a soldier

Fought against the French

Then fought on the side of Porfirio Diaz

Next an outlaw and later a scout

For the cavalry outpost

During the Border Troubles

Crossing the Rio Grande on raids

From San Luca, Chihuahua

To San Antonio del Bravo

From Marfa to Candelaria and Ojinaga

He never slept in a bed

He never ate inside a house

He took his food outdoors to eat

Outside under the Big Table

He died in Mesa, Arizona

Age 105

The two poems were inspired by stories collected in the 1960s by Arthur Fuentes and Marcus Sailler, who can take pride in knowing that their work has been transformed into poetry. Careful readers will note that Teel Sale has invented some elements and changed some names, but that is what poets do.

 

Lonn Taylor is a historian and writer who lives in Fort Davis. He can be reached at taylorw@fortdavis.net.

 

Story filed under: West Texas Talk » West Texas Talk Highlight

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