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Michigan and Newfoundland
About Lynn DeTurk




Considered Regrets

Look at this quirt lying loose in my hand
like the life I let pass through these fingers
I sit here and ponder the choices Iíve made
and consider regrets as they linger

Here, astride the big bay that I ride
gazing out over Wind River Ranges
I remember a spring of my yester days
before progress and money brought changes
I close my eyes and imagine I see them
as they race flat out through the valley
dodging Indian Paintbrush and tumbling sage
that boy, Tim, and his young friend, Miss Callie
They fought and played and swam in Green River
raced horses to best one another
Tim was the foremanís only son
Miss Callie the rancherís daughter
The only kids on this Wyoming spread
they learned ranching up from the ground
mucked stalls, cleaned tack, stacked hay in the lofts
divined uses for square bales and round
Together they watched as spring calves were birthed
Broke horses, learned to calf rope and dally
Treat lamenesses, colic, scours and sore hocks
ďI think weíre a good team,Ē said Callie
On old geldings they trail rode the foothills
unspeaking, the dayís work was done
watched eagles soar and ride on the thermals
saw the mountains backlit by the sun
And later they learned to make bulls into steers
drive cattle, sleep out in the cold
but when Tim started smithing and using a forge
Not for young ladies, Callie was told

You are a daughter and not a son
its time to establish new rules
now is your chance to learn lady-like ways
prepare to go East, attend school.

Tim made a gift for his very best friend
two horseshoe nails twisted together
heated Ďtil red in the forge, and then formed
and hung on a thin strip of leather
Worn round her neck at the base of her throat
the ring hard against her soft skin
symbol of something unspoken between them
For the future, they said to each other, thatís when.
With ambivalence Calli packed her things
reluctant to leave home and Tim
yet intrigued by thoughts of life in the city
she said a rushed goodbye to him


Now blind to the blush of the Indian Paintbrush
and the mountainsí sharp outlines
Tim rode all alone in the setting sun
said a prayer for the passing of time
Letters came often in those early days
filled with sentiments pure and sweet
but soon she was writing of the people sheíd met
and the parties sheíd been to out East
Alone, Tim observed seasons changing
he wondered what Callie had learned
anxious, he watched winter melt into spring
it was time, but she didnít return
He worked by himself as the years rolled away
and the mail van brought nothing but pain
her letters came seldom and held little news
Callie never came home again
When father retired, Tim took his place
the rancher was aging, too
the man had no sons, so he sold the spread
Tim found he was wrangling dudes
But Tim adapted, he didnít fight change
he dealt with what needed to happen
though at night he rode out on his new bay colt
sat quiet, astride, remembered when
Dark, starry nights, an old buckskin, now gone
Dad too, and the love of his life
he imagined her now in a far away place
she was married, a bankerís wife
Ranching Dudes turned into good business
it wasnít as tough as with steers
and the issues Tim had to deal with
he could delegate most to his peers
City people came and went with the seasons
most were the same to him
he was polite, and kind, and gave good directions
a leg up, a pat on the shin

Itís not quite twilight up here on this hill
I gather the quirt in my hand
a touch of the spur and weíre off, Beau and I
we pick our way down to flat land
A new group of tourists await by the bunkhouse
they watch as I ride through the gate
surrounded by luggage and backpacks
and so much unnecessary freight

A young woman in jeans, her hair pulled back
calls out Tim! Does she know my name?
I dismount when she holds her hand up to me
reach out to shake it, it feels the same

As Callieís did those years ago
but that could be wrong cause Iíve changed
mine are coarse from ranch work and roping
and seasons spent out on the range
Startled, I stop, I donít know what to say
she smiles with Callieís eyes
from her neck hangs my twisted horseshoe ring
I face the horse to hide my surprise

We stand that way, not talking
for a moment that feels like a year
in quiet, the sound flowing all around us
then she speaks to calm my fears

Tim, she says, then hesitates
while I tighten the grip on my quirt
Iíve always wanted to see this place
she touches the sleeve of my shirt
My mother often talks of you
Iím Callieís oldest daughter
Timbrel is my given name
She told me you should have been my father.

© 2011, Lynn DeTurk
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


    About Lynn DeTurk:
provided 2011

Lynn DeTurk has spent a lifetime around horses, but not cowboys. A student of poetry, she attended the 2011 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada this year because she wanted to learn about cowboy poetry first hand. "Considered Regrets" was born from what she learned in Elko, and is the first of several cowboy poems written since then. It was presented publicly for the first time at the Bear River Writer's Conference in June, 2011.

Lynn resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan during the winter months and spends summers in Tors Cove, Newfoundland where she writes about Newfoundland and her experiences there.



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