Tuesday, April 16, 2013

For Steve and Ted

Rod, Steve and Buster Wines, and neighbors branding in Ruby Valley

Slim comes back, reporting
After jeeping through the wood hills.
He brings home no surprises,
"Times are hard, there, for a drink."

It's hot and drouthy; by October,
Gardner Spring, and Willow
Are long dry; and Maverick
And Medicene, and Cherry
And Mountain seep a trickle.
They barely irrigate the feral horse
And the mule deer tracks that circle
Down from the brush to constant danger. 
God's creatures know
The lion and the hunters watch
      The water.

One old gelding lives alone
Up the draw from Willow Windmill.
He holds no commission, no command.
Fearlessly he limps up to the windmill
     In the daylight,
Stands by the pipe that split last winter,
Tries to slurp the gook that puddles
     In the trail.
It's not a fancy drink, but
These many vicious winters later,
He knows well he cannot walk too far.

The ranch that owns the windmill
Went broke, sold off the cattle.
Without them, there's no reason
     To repair. 
So the mule deer, and this gelding,
Innocent, thirsty victims
Of the interest rates that drove
     The lady down.

Among those of us who clamor
About respect for thirsty creatures
We hold our enviro-sensitivities
Aloft for all to see. . . .
Except to whine about wildlife problems,
Not one helpful hand was lifted.
Then two cowboys
     For the lady,
Steve and Ted, came in a pickup.
Brought a pipe and couple-wrenches,
Fixed the mainline to the stock tank,
     And then went back to work.

In this world, not one soul noticed.
No one took the time to thank them.
But the new pipe carries water
To the tank at Willow Windmill.
And one old gelding, tired and crippled,
     Gets a decent drink.

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