About Bill Atkinson
The Milky Way casts shadow here
With deep nights so sweet and silent.
Roads are rough so far from town
The trucks need constant alignment.
There’s rugged men and women too
Loving and living on the land
Here’s a tale of a gritty girl
Who roped and tied her cowman.
Life moved along as it often does
When long love and laughter abound
Soon enough they were expecting
A cowkid coming to the compound.
Belle and Hod were neighbors next door
Carving a life with their hands
Building a herd and planting crops
Looking for new ways to expand.
But Belle filled out first, none could ignore
A baby would come before long
She was almost sure it was two
Doc said, “One heartbeat, you’re wrong.”
The cows were calving every night
Hod didn’t pay much attention
Belle carried on shaking her head
Gaining greater dimension.
Hod won the marriage lottery
When he found love and courted Belle
A nurse able to do cowsareans
For a cowman there was no parallel.
But consider this mystery
Handling cows Hod could understand
Easy calving bulls with heifers
A close eye when cows would expand.
See the calf turned in the tummy
Ready to dive to a new home
And watch wax plugs drop from teats
Feel soft muscles beside the backbone.
Could he recognize when his wife
Would birth, bring forth life? Not a chance.
He couldn’t really test for wax
Poking her pelvis might end their romance.
So there they were at home one night
Belle convinced her time had come.
A sign even the dumbest farmers know
Waterbag breaks. Now comes bedlam.
Terrified, Hod first phoned Unc
Expert on life, the neighbor next door
“Bundle her warm and start the truck
We’ll get her to town for the encore.”
Early spring, still freezing each night
The roads were bound to be icy
They stopped by the rock pile to toss
Boulders, weight if roads were dicy.
Hod spread blankets on the truck seat
There were blankets on the truck floor
Blankets were stapled to the dashboard
Hanging down, completing the décor
Belle was more than merely bundled
Hod never settled for just enough
Covers to embrace and protect her
Belle was swaddled, cuddled, stuffed.
Unc in the back with the boulders
Blankets and Belle filled the cab
Hod raced on sliding through corners
Both hung on with what they could grab
At the bottom of Baker mountain
To cross the swamp lay corduroy
Hod slowed the truck down a fraction
Boulders bounced and so did his bundle of joy.
Belle was bound and determined
This baby would be born in town
But the rhythm of the corduroy
Climaxed in a baby shakedown.
Unc stared in alarmed amazement
Then leaned out to look in the side window
There was a baby on the floor
As they cornered in the meadow.
The log bumps and the corner combined
To launch Unc clean over the side
He landed in the oozy slush
Nothing left for him to decide.
Before they left the corduroy
The second girl came in a rush
Belle gathered them both to her breast
Two voices who never would hush.
The doctor met them at the doors
Rushing the twins to the nursery
Maternity ward for mother
Rest from induced delivery.
Hod headed home in the early dawn
Well satisfied with the twin birth
He found Unc stumbling towards town
He had been spit out of the earth.
Unc squeezed into the blanket cocoon
The cab was a pretty tight fit.
“How are Belle and the baby?”
“Twins. She was right I must admit.”
They pulled up close to the stone pile
After they had turned into the farm
They couldn’t even budge those boulders
Chains and a tractor worked like a charm.
© 2015, Bill Atkinson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
Bill Atkinson comments, "After World War II and well into the 1990s, all across the Canadian and American West, young people kept pushing further and further out from the rural towns and cities to build their own ranches and farms. Life was on the rugged edge but they were tough and persistent. There was nothing like ultra sound and our newer imaging technologies so birth was still a bit of mystery and always an adventure. This is a poem about those people."
About Bill Atkinson:
I’ve lived a life and learned to love Cariboo Sunsets, and the scent of curing hay. My wife and I have worked heart in glove for forty years of horses, cows and play. Had a gander once that imprinted on me. The first time he decided to come along, with honking goose overhead, my horse bucked free. We soon learned that the gander’s will was strong.
Cows and calves filled February nights, we dragged ourselves to school each day. In August we worked long by tractor lights curing and baling the perfect horse hay. We retired from herding teenagers down the tricky trail to becoming adults. Stay on the ranch, don’t head out much and don’t miss any of town’s tumults.
My wife keeps busy going to meetings. She’s still trying to right all of the world’s wrongs. I ranch, write, and do watercolor painting and here I am out of the tack room singing my songs.
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