THE GOOD YEARS
by Deanna Dickinson McCall
The soft sound of hooves on leaves
Shuffling over rock on the slope,
The gentle pull uphill as you look
Praying for grass, praying for hope.
It’s autumn and no rain has fallen
No summer monsoons ever came.
Last year’s grass is gone to dust
Too many years of the same.
You recall waving gramma grass
Cured brown with seed on the stem
It would put a cow through winter
Up here on the ridge and rim.
But, it rained at least some,
Even those marginal years had grass
The springs and creeks flowed
Laden clouds didn’t blow past.
You re-live the really good years
The land was unbelievably green
You rode in mud fixing water gaps
Tanks blown, canyons scoured clean.
Grass and wildflowers was stuff of fairies
Seeds and blooms nodding to dancing dew
Cows and horses sleek and shiny fat
Lord, it was like the land was new.
Those memories keep you hanging on,
Heaven sent rains would finally come.
You have been in tight spots before
Tough old times, you’ve seen some.
Drier than the dirty thirties
Record dry they say.
God will open the heavens
Wash this drought clean away.
‘Til then, you pull your hat down
Squint through the dust some more
Summon faith back in your heart
That God will heal this land’s sore.
Close your tired eyes against the dust
See the fat cattle and green grass
Feel the moisture on the soft wind
Dream of the good years of the past.
© 2013, Deanna Dickinson McCall
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission.
Fifth-generation rancher, writer, and poet Deanna Dickinson McCall wrote about the drought in an eloquent piece in the Ranch and Reata magazine in 2015, The article, “The Gift,” begins, “The leaves crumble beneath my horse’s hooves, scattering into flakes onto the gray rock as we climb the trail. We’ve labored upward, hoof striking rock to dust repeatedly, through oak brush that never turned green, algarita too dry to produce the berries I cherish for jelly, and rust-colored cedar and piñion stands. The stunted grass is buried in dust.”
Deanna appears with Randy Huston and Jim Wilson in a July 22, 2017 show for the National Day of the Cowboy in Timberon, New Mexico. Then she heads for two other good events next month:
The Real Cowboy Music and Poetry Show Benefit for Ranching Truth takes place August 5, 2017, 7 PM, in Ruidoso, New Mexico. In addition to Deanna Dickinson McCall, the show features Gary Prescott, Jean Prescott, and Randy Huston. Find more at the Ranching Truth site.
Deanna is also included in the lineup at the Fourth Annual Cimarron Cowboy Music & Poetry Gathering, August 25-27, 2017 at New Mexico’s Philmont Scout Ranch, just south of Cimarron. Other performers include Floyd Beard, Valerie Beard, Broken Chair Band, @Dale Burson, Janice Deardorff, Doug Figgs, Purly Gates, Danner Hampton, Randy Huston, Washtub Jerry, Jill Jones, Jim Jones, Peggy Malone, Terry Nash, Claudia Nygaard, Dale Page, Ramblin’ Rangers, Sandy Reay, Dennis Russell, Mark Smith, Rocky Sullivan, Rod Taylor, and Jim Wilson. Find more at cimarroncowboygathering.com.
Deanna has two highly praised books of stories, Rough Patches, which recently won a Will Rogers Medallion Award, and Mustang Spring, which also includes poems. She also has an award-winning CD of her poetry, Riding. She’s a popular performer at gatherings, often appearing at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and other events.
Her next book, a sequel to Rough Patches, is scheduled for release in October.
This photo, taken last month, is of Deanna and Dave McCall and ranching friends and neighbors.