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.)