It’s not easy to get glimpses of myself
among the young men in the branding pen,
awkward young bulls bellowing
as they wrestle fat calves to the ground.
Yesterday, I carried the nut-bucket
and dope instead of riding with a rope,
instead of sliding a wide loop
beneath two feet. I can feel it, see it
in my mind, the smooth dance and dally
round a cotton-wrapped horn, rolling
calves and slipping slack when needed—
but my metronome has slowed.
I don’t wish to be among the old chiefs
who stayed too long to become obstacles
in space and time just to be aboard,
just to lend a neighbor’s hand, like always.