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Boise, Idaho
About Christine Echeverria Bender
Christine's web site



Hard to Kill

Who could have foretold
that the bronco he rode
would clear its chute
 with a crouch and a leap,
flip high and around,
then land up-side-down
and crush William Sands

The gasp from the crowd
burst so sudden and loud
that the following silence
 seemed shrill.
We all stared forlorn
at the half-hidden form,
praying, "Let there be life
in him still."

That horse gained the ground,
kicking out and around
to free the hand
caught tight in the rigging.
But Bill was out cold,
couldn't loosen his hold
while the bronc kept on jumping
and digging.

Like a rag Bill was tossed
back and forth and across
'til his glove left his hand
 and he fell.
With a cruel kind of grace
the horse kicked Billy's face,
as if trying to send him
to hell.

A stretcher came down,
medics crowded around,
blocking our view
from the stands,
and we watched with hearts low
for a twitch that would show
any movement of boots
or of hands.

Six men lifted him,
their faces so grim
we began to lose hope
for young Bill.
That's just when he stirred,
shook his head, and we heard,
"I guess cowboys ain't easy
to kill."

2003, Christine Echeverria Bender

Oysters from the Rocky Mountains

Now I've heard it said,
and I've even read,
that a gal from the West
must be tough.
I agree from my heart
but I have to impart
that eatin' some things can be
mighty rough.

I was not yet a teen,
kind of scrawny and lean,
yet needed when it came
time to brand.
With grit teeth and a frown
I'd lean a calf down,
then the fellows would each
lend a hand.

They'd brand and mark ears
and make bulls into steers,
keepin' back the parts
they'd taken out.
I paid little heed,
bein' bent on my deed,
workin' hard wrestlin'
critters right stout.

When at last we were through
to the spigot we drew,
so tired our bodies
were draggin'.
My stomach growled low
as though wantin' to show
to the table I mustn't
be laggin'.

By the time we had rinsed,
had our horses uncinched,
everyone's bellies
were talkin'.
That's when our cook's bell
clattered loud for a spell,
gettin' all of our feet
briskly walkin'.

My suspicions were raised
the first minute I gazed
on the bucket we'd
used in the pens,
restin' there on the floor
not far from the door,
while Cooky fried eggs
from our hens.

Breakfast suppers were rare
but not unwelcome faire
even after a day
of hard labor.
It was the meat on the plate,
not a sausage first rate,
that cut down my hopes
like a saber.

Though not squeamish often
my mind couldn't soften
to eatin' what I knew
dern well,
had come from a part
of a young bull whose start
misfortune so newly

Catchin' each cowboy's stare,
I pushed back my chair,
spillin' milk as high
as three fountains.
Not sayin' a word
I rode toward the herd
thinkin' oysters shouldn't come
from the mountains.

  2003, Christine Echeverria Bender


There in the Shadow

In the shadow of mountains the three of us rode,
drawing near Young Wolf River, where our horses slowed.
My daughter and son helped get fishing poles out,
then we tossed in our lines baited specially for trout.

We'd come here quite often when their dad was alive
but now twelve years had passed since the kids were both five.
Even so, we kept coming to Sam's special place
to recall his soft grin and his warming embrace.

Our fishing went well 'til Cal decided to wade,
splashing waves of cold water Tess couldn't evade.
Amid laughter and squeals a wet skirmish was on.
 When they came up for air, the fish were long gone.

 They stood tall and dripping, like young sapling trees,
and I paused to thank God for pure moments like these.
When we headed for home, I rode a little behind
to watch their displays of a love that would bind.

No one could have known in a handful of days
I'd be riding alone when the woods caught ablaze.
I was given no warning when storm clouds arose,
shooting lightning at trees that crashed down where they chose.

My gentle old gelding, struck by the same pine,
 bore my soul far away from those children of mine.
Quite late the next evening my body was found
by a team of ten searchers and one well-trained hound.

From near and afar to the graveyard they drew,
bringing food for a table that everyone knew.
They were from the high country, big-hearted and kind,
and determined not to let my teens feel left behind.

A year has passed now as I look down through blue skies,
Cal's wearing my Stetson, and Tess, my Levis.
In the shadow of mountains I watch them draw near.
They've returned to the river with tackle and gear.

Tess leans her head lightly on her brother's shoulder.
Somehow, they look more than a single year older.
Gazing up, Cal says, "Mom's here," in an awe-filled tone.
Through tears sweet and healing, Tess says, "We should have known."

  2004, Christine Echeverria Bender


About Christine Echeverria Bender:

Award-winning writer Christine Echeverria Bender creates poetry and stories
to capture the mind as well as the heart.  Her poems, short stories, and
first novel, Challenge The Wind, have earned praise from critics and readers
alike.  She resides with her husband and two sets of twins in Boise, Idaho
and can be reached at www.christinebender.com.





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