Maury Maverick Jr.—a civil rights attorney, member of the Texas House of Representatives, and longtime columnist for the San Antonio Express-News—left an indelible mark on his beloved hometown of San Antonio. Jan Jarboe Russell memorialized him in the pages of Texas Monthly after his death, and fifteen years later, as we celebrate San Antonio’s tricentennial, the poet Naomi Shihab Nye imagines what it might be like for Maverick to wander the city streets today.

Listen to the poet read this work here:

Maury Saw Two

Naomi Shihab Nye

Owl in the Brackenridge tree said, Keep your eye on
every layer, visible and gone, roll the fibers of your life
between them, stitch a seam, walk on – exactly what he did.
Maury Maverick Jr. with his stride and his cane, on a daily
circumambulation of bark and weeds, rivulets and leaves,
carrying his two cities, San Antonio vanished
and present, sparking his gaze like a torch.  He said it hurt,
so much hovering.  How could anyone wreck
a treasure, had you exhausted the menu at La Louisiane?
Sometimes one question wrapped him up like a vine
and held for weeks tightening its grip, because he hadn’t been
done with that story, you know, the last time,
about the Alamo’s doors or the unsung heroes
during every war who say No, I took a vow, Thou shall not kill,
and I am Thou. He loved the rough and raggedy,
forswore the sleek and new. Yes, it was a minor ego trip
to be a Maverick in Texas (grinning) – O Maury, where are you?
Maybe at the counter of the Post Office Café, shiny in the ethers,
or cheering the lunch special at Anthony’s,
or hanging out with Quinney’s cash register at Just Good Food
cursing the streets being torn up again, they were
always torn up,  or conversing with glistening fish
in the tank at Naple’s. You might have said government hosted
more freakish behavior than Playland Park with its
fading carnival carousel and trailers of eccentrics.
Walk on, keep telling the truth. What happens
if we lose it? Yes, there used to be real alligators
in that small concrete pond by the Witte,
but it’s the greed we need to fear.
Maybe you’re pounding out your column for the newspaper
before the sun comes up, dogs curled at your feet,
or holding a loaf of hot bread
behind Richter’s Bakery, unsliced, in the days it cost a dime
and the baker handed it steaming, unwrapped, out a window to
ravenous college kids and wise men who cocked their heads
saying, What the hell’s going on here?
Wish you could tell us. The lost gets farther away,
but there has never been so much again.

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