Horseman Silver


Horseman Silver

once there was a horseman, with a
quarter horse knitted to his back,
grey Stetson, tilted back so
sunshine bristled on his brow
smoke escaping from his nose
wild horses galloping out of his mouth

a bit of bellicose brag reined in for his woman
who parked her pointer finger, sideways
above her eagle eyes to search his horizon

but, oh, in the back rooms of the wheat elevator
chaff sidestepping on stray sunbeams
running a ragged race to tell the tallest story
of finest thoroughbred thoughts, running
against the next best for their trophy

none of them had been in a saddle for years
but their gnarled stories recalled the pull
of a pioneer wagon behind plow horses
and a white sail across the prairies,
over the rocky passes, when they were yearlings
to married life and a mention of free land

it was never free grandfather
you broke your back to it, and her,
with her wilds dreams of a hoe and hearth
and baking bread in a real oven, raising children
under a well-shingled roof, and forcing a garden
out of hard earth while the mares foaled
and she did, to add weight to this new place

half-broke geldings scuffed fresh riders
off in the branches of the poplar boundary
of the farm-turned-ranch you two carved
out in the country you landed boots first in
where the muck of milk cows waited
on promised hay and a gentle hand
while you rode off into dust to dust

I hold it, here, the deed of fine land
ownership of a generation of foals,
pictures of a young man and a woman
astride similar star-faced, half-starved mounts
frozen and leaning against a rotted corral
waiting for the click of tongue to roof of mouth
to race back with its memories

I hold the sweater to my face
 and feel the prickly heat
of stubble that has been
chewed down by the equine teeth
of packing a heart into hard
 trails made by man and horse
until I rock in the saddle
 hanging on to your back
like a princess being saved
by a knight of necessity

your voice sings, “Oh, Give Me A Home”,
and the hill hears it
memorizes the meanings of a
 man made from sway-back
stories of riding a rough
range to make a tall tale
for a green-broke granddaughter riding
a saddle-like porch swing all
the way to your stalled heaven

Poem By Carol Desjarlais 

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