near Divide, Montana
About Kristen Lynch
The Long Ride Home© 2011, Kristen Lynch
Was it the wind that night?
Or something else
That followed the four of us home
The night after we gathered
We shared a few rounds—
And a couple of lies
Taking it slow upon the gravel
Our horses knew better than we
For they sensed a new rider among us
As silent as a sullen moon
An invisible guest on a phantom steed
That made our party grow by one
Our horses whinnied and threw their heads
Making us pull the reins to steady their nerves
We coaxed them on, ‘whoa, girl, whoa’ say we,
And tried to soothe with soft words
Our heels crushing their ribs
But they knew
We were not alone
Oh, the wind came on,
Tickling our skin like a tremulous tongue
My flesh chapped raw from the cold
By my side, an intruder
In the guise of blackness,
Whose ghostly hooves clopped steady and slow
Like raindrops off the canyon walls
And kicked the same dust I rode upon,
Scattering stones and clearing paths
Through the cheat grass
We tried to outrun this uninvited rider
Our horses wheezing among these ghost plains
Grown thick from fertile seeds
Long-nourished from the bones
Of buffaloes and moccasined-braves
And wily men who herded cattle,
Led north by milky stars
Floating like flotsam in the vast sea sky
Our hearts racing and lungs inhaling the air,
Heavy with sage
Frost-kissed and caused
Our breath to dance
Like restless spirits
On through the night we rode
And above the wild hooves,
A voice as thin
As the sudden wind
Crept in my ear
And hummed a tune
Whose words have been long forgotten.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
© 2011, Betty K. Rodgers
This poem is included in the 2011 National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur, which features a photograph by Betty K. Rodgers.
Kristen told us: Betty Rodgers' photo inspired me to write something about the quickly fading west and how the ghosts of the past might still be heard if you are willing to open your mind and listen close enough.
About Kristen Lynch:
I live in Boise, Idaho with my husband and our four children. In between raising children I've managed to find time to write mostly western-inspired poems, short stories and most recently finished a 113,000-word western novel about a mining incident that sparked a full-scale war in 1860s Silver City, Idaho.
What's New | Poems | Search
Features | Events
The BAR-D Roundup | Cowboy Poetry Week
Subscribe | Newsletter | Contact Us
Authors retain copyright to their work; obtain an author's
permission before using a poem in any form.
CowboyPoetry.com is a project of the Center for Western and Cowboy Poetry, Inc., a Federal and California tax-exempt non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization.
Site copyright information