Our lame cowboy carefully gimps up
The Bozeman alley, that long Rouse alley.
His cane of twisted box elder weighs
The gnarled burdens of his range-riddled bones.
Leaves as if petals cushion his way.
Slant sunlight seeps through the shedding cottonwoods.
Stetson hat, old sweat wicked up the crown.
He hums, he hitches along. Sourdough speaks to him.
Winter waits. He knows winter waits. The birds know.
He stops and turns around to gaze back North.
Sharp grey mountains rise out of distant foothills past.
He senses Sixteen Mile and glimpses Baldy beyond the Bridgers.
Winds fall off the Bangtails, winds remembering youth.
His youth. His horse-life past. A time beyond and before.
He recalls riding that golden high country, always riding.
Autumns ago, decades on end, coaxing the cows and calves home.
Late one fall the boss man took his horses away.
Sent him to town to live out the years.
Horseless still, he navigates through the Eagles’ Club
Out into that alley and up dead-end Rouse itself.
Where his mind trips and falls into Sourdough Creek
As his box-elder cane floats under Main Street.
- O/B Store