Trail Hands

for Patricia

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

This is our Texas trail-head.
Horses fresh, we turn northward
to God’s Country, toward tomorrow,
where badlands and river gorges a mile wide
wait to test us.

We bake in prairie sunlight
knee-to-knee on our mounts,
breakfast on hot coffee and cold beans
in morning chill by campfire.
You pull me from a rocky ledge — 
I tar and bandage your horse bite.

Nights on the trail, 
we wonder at the moon with whiskey on our breath,
sing songs only coyotes answer,
sleep close for warmth and safety.

Spilling honest sweat and blood
we push ever forward,
losing boot leather on dusty roads,
finding gold in hidden gorges.

In the new country, at trail’s end,
we cut logs for a cabin — 
raise and shingle a roof — settle in for winter.

Long nights will see our hearth blazing,
and lamps lit over old books,
while wind sings us lullabies in treetops.

We retell our old stories,
make up fresh lies, barely notice night’s passing
for the company of two old hands,
until the lamp burns its last,
leaving us bathed only in mountain moonlight.


This poem is from my collection — The End of an Ordinary Life — available now in eBook and paperback formats. WINNER, 1st Prize in Poetry, Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook, 2017