by Carole Jarvis
“I told ya’ once, it’s the second gate,
and leave the thing open!
Close the one with fingertrap;
that’s where they’ll water—I’m hopin’.
“Now pay attention; watch fer cows;
make sure the fences are up.
Keep yer mind on what we’re doin’ out here,
and quit lookin’ fer buttercup!”
Then off he rides in a cowboy trot,
his eyes on the trail up ahead.
And me, I’m tryin’ to concentrate,
on all of the things he just said.
But above me there’s a red-tail hawk,
and I watch him circle and soar.
Then into the wind he dips and turns,
with the grace of a matador!
And what made those tracks in the wash;
they’re not rabbit or coyote I know,
But some kind of critter wandered this way,
and it hasn’t been that long ago.
Guess I really shouldn’t tarry though,
so come on old horse, let’s get goin’.
I’m sure by now Dan’s halfway there,
and I’d better be a-showin’.
Okay, this trail is headed right,
and I can see all the fence from here.
Gee, what a lovely day for a ride,
oh wow, there’s a herd of mule deer!
With three or four does and a buck
a couple of spikes! Boy they’re quick!
Over that ridge and out of sight
Like kids on a pogo stick!
That buck was a five-point, at least!
I wonder where he hid last fall?
Wherever it was, I hope he goes back—
uh oh, I think I head a cow bawl!
Oh nuts, that came from way up ahead—
I pray they’re not through the gate!
Come on little horse, let’s hit a lope,
I’m in big trouble if I’m too late!
And there they are, headin’ straight in
toward the gate I’m supposed to close!
At a dead run now, it’s nip and tuck—
And I beat ‘um—but just by a nose!
Wow! That was too close, old pony,
I’d never hear the end of that,
If they’d gotten through and scattered…
well, let’s go see where the rest are at.
Here comes Dan now with the big bunch,
ridin’ in from the other direction.
“Good,” he says, when he sees these cows,
“looks like ya’ paid attention!”
I always do, I say to him,
and a laugh is his reaction.
Just because on a rare occasion,
I might have had a distraction.
So I tell him the fence is all up,
and there’s plenty of feed in the draw.
But I keep to myself, all the other things,
that when I paid attention I saw!
© 2003, Carole Jarvis
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission
Popular poet Carole Jarvis has lived and cowboyed in Wyoming, Oregon and Arizona. She has written, “… there’s been a lot of hard work, dusty trails, blisters, sunburns and broken bones along the way, but it’s the life I chose and the one Dan, my husband chose, and we wouldn’t trade it for any other.”
Carole Jarvis’s recitation of this poem is on The BAR-D Roundup: Volume 10, a double-cd collection of the best-of-the-best of the series.
Carole Jarvis is the recipient of the Gail I. Gardner Award for a Working Cowboy Poet, bestowed by the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering and of the 2003 Western Heritage Award, from the Annual Cowboy Christmas Poetry Gathering in Wickenburg, Arizona. Carole is also a recipient of the Della Johns Scholarship for Ranch Women (now Women Writers of Cowboy Poetry) from the Western Folklife Center.
This poem is included in her book, Time Not Measured By a Clock. Find more of her poetry, including a moving tribute to her late husband, and more about her at cowboypoetry.com.
This photograph of the Jarvis Ranch gate is courtesy of Carole Jarvis.
(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and photograph with this post, but for other uses, request permission.)