A young Red Tail waits,
his nest mate on another
set of braces, mother
in a sycamore,
for a fresh batch
of baby ground squirrels—
eyes just open now,
but naïve to being
at the bottom
of the food chain.
Eggs and feathers
come early for hawks,
learning to hunt soon after
young rodents are born
full of innocence.
He has never seen a man before
and eyes me curiously, carefully
and will stay the summer
securing the ground around
the corrals dining on squirrels.
Grasses dry, the empty heads
of wild oats bow to a breeze,
rip gut and foxtails cling
for traveling—the hills are blond
come June. With coming summer
sun, tender lilies bloom
reaching for a short life
and the 100-degree sky.
These girls have spent Memorial Day Weekend in the pen as part of their weaning process. The canyon is already quieter as they get accustomed to not being with their mothers, and their mothers with them. Their male counterparts went to town as bulls three weeks ago as we begin to gather and wean our upper country.
Growing into horseback dreams
takes time and dedication for little girls,
pushing cattle where the feed can be
heavenly on the good years—a home
for heifers and their first calf—
we’ve watched her grow to be good help,
to hold her own over years
of pillowed nights imagining—all
come true right before our eyes.
A short pause for this year’s one-day bloom that usually occurs around Mother’s Day, more flamboyant, it seems, this year, complete with leafhoppers that have overrun the garden. Once stirred, the bugs blindly assault every orifice, eyes, ears, nose and mouth. The hatch should run its course in two or three weeks, however the mosquitos will be with us all summer. Our weather has warmed to 100 degrees as we begin our workdays earlier, palpating heifers, moving cattle and weaning calves, as we try to find a pace that we can maintain for the next thirty or so days.
It is time for us to kiss the earth again.
– Robinson Jeffers (“Return”)
We have wandered far from the roots
of our sustenance, the bloom and fruit—
with rain the eager volunteers of stalk
and seed and the herds of harvesters
that circumnavigate uneven ground
and till tomorrow’s table full. We have
lost touch, lost taste, lost our senses
for living well, close to the smell of dirt
from whence we’ve come and will rest
in the end. Instead we let our minds’
appetite for the scandalous fill hungry heads
with acrimony and self-righteousness
to feed another uncivil war. It’s time
for us to stop—take the time to kiss
this earth dressed in her many splendors.
Quietly reading cattle
and one another,
when words come too late
to be applicable—
no room for poetry,
no time to edit—
it is a dance instead,
a gentle rhythm
of man and beast
a sixth sense
we take for granted
after a lifetime