In response to a request for my contributions to “Reflections of the West” I’ve posted “John Cutler’s Cowboys” that is also included in “Poems from Dry Creek.”
We at last struck a trail that has recently been cut
for the purpose of bringing in cattle. It is at an altitude
of 7,800 feet. Here is a succession of grassy meadows –
one called Big Meadow is several miles in extent.
– William H. Brewer, 18 June 1864
I know the place
my grandfather’s grandfather found
to escape the drought, heard the voices
of his vaqueros when I got turned around
in the tight pines near Ellis Meadow – easy
to lose yourself and time altogether – feel
them close to the black rings of stone.
Up from Eshom where the Yokuts held
their last Ghost Dance that upset the settlers
in Visalia and over Redwood Saddle
to graze Rowell and Sugarloaf bunchgrass.
After nearly a hundred summers,
the cows knew the way.
It’s much the same once off the trail:
pine needle carpets and granite cut
by snowmelt creeks and green stringer
meadows, wind and river talking loud
enough to hear damn-near anything.