The End of the Road
I’ll say my farewells now, my old cayuse
lying there on your side,
no longer any use,
who was my lone companion and my ride.
From dawn to dusk I perched astride your saddle
to rope a steer or drive
those restless, lowing cattle
across the country. How can I revive
a horse that can’t rise up? You were as spryful
as any foal for years.
Now I must use my rifle,
the Winchester that rang inside your ears
when it frightened off a coyote, mountain lion,
or silenced rattlesnakes.
We slept beneath Orion
on autumn nights and plowed through whiteout flakes.
You heard the songs I sang to soothe the drove.
Now I will hum a song
to one who’ll never rove
again across the Plains. You’ll not last long.
I heard your labored breaths all through the night.
You know I’ve always done
what needed doing. Fight
no more! It’s dawn. I’ve put away my gun.
(Co-winner of Lighten Up Online's Competition 50: Horse Lines.)