SHE NEEDS TO RIDE by Deanna Dickinson McCall

jsshesahand“She’s a Hand,” © 1993,  Joelle Smith (1958-2005)


by Deanna Dickinson McCall

She watches cows on the hill thru the window pane,
thru the drizzling rain
Looks to see if there’s calves by their sides,
thinks maybe she should ride

Been told again it is time to go eat,
she needs to find her seat
She notes the green has begun,
it just needs some sun

She wonders if they are her cows,
or maybe her daddy’s, she allows
Can’t see a brand from here,
or any mark on the ear

Go catch her horse in a bit,
she never did like to just sit
Her slicker was in the saddle shed,
right by the cat’s bed

The walker’s wheels begin to slide,
she’s thinking she’ll ride
There’s a tug on her sleeve,
someone telling her she can’t leave

She decides to try ol’ Dunny today,
she doesn’t care what they say
When she needs to ride, she’ll ride,
they can’t keep her inside

Supple leather in her hands,
a communication she understands
His willingness to always please,
that unity ‘tween her knees

She wonders if that’s right,
the memories begin to fight
A sorrel, a paint, a buckskin, a bay,
who’d she ride yesterday?

Smell of institutional food is in the air,
it seems to hang there
A tv blares from the wall,
there’s handrails in the hall

She hears the laughter and some clangs,
singing and some little bangs
She knows the sound of pans and tin,
the smell of coffee drifting in

Knows she’s expected at the table,
but, her mind’s at the stable
Wondering about the horse eating,
not silly place-name seating

The cattle on the hill are black,
she tried to think back
Red necks only came to mind,
she didn’t remember that kind

She stares down at the wrinkled hand,
at the worn thin wedding band
Tries to conjure up his face,
to only find an empty place

He’d been gone for so darn long,
she was alone but strong
The visions were so bleary,
recollecting made her so weary

She found a seat facing the hill,
eyes closing against her will
Rest a bit ‘fore going outside,
she really needed to ride

No one thought anything of her nap,
hands slowly sliding off her lap,
The gentleness of her smile
as she rode her very last mile.

© 2020, Deanna Dickinson McCall, used with permission
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission

Multi award-winning poet and writer and fifth generation rancher Deanna Dickinson McCall considers “the women who ride no more” in her new poem.

She has some exciting things in the works, including two forthcoming publications, to be announced, and New Mexico’s Timberon Western Experience, June 26-27, 2020 with Jim Jones, Randy Huston, and Jim Wilson.

Find more about Deanna Dickinson McCall at and at her web site,

A frequent featured performer at many gatherings across the West, Deanna Dickinson McCall is a part of the new Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering, which takes place February 21-22, 2020 in Alpine, Texas. The gathering has been created by an enthusiastic, hard-working group of people who came together after the announcement of the end of the venerable Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering last year. The first annual program’s outstanding lineup includes Mike Blakely, Dale Burson, Craig Carter, Allan Chapman & Rodeo Kate, Doug Figgs, Jack George, Pipp Gillette, Jeff Gore, Amy Hale Steiger, Andy Hedges, Randy Huston, Jim Jones, Jill Jones, Jarle Kvale, Deanna McCall, Terry Nash, Andy Nelson, Joel Nelson, Rodney Nelson, Gary Prescott, Jean Prescott, Mike Querner, Vess Quinlan, Brigid & Johnny “Guitar” Reedy, Randy Rieman, Jake Riley, Trinity Seely, R.P. Smith, Jay Snider, Red Steagall, Gail Steiger, Michael Stevens, Rod Taylor, The Cowboy Way (Jim Jones, Doug Figgs and Mariam Funke) Andy Wilkinson, and Jim Wilson. Get down there and support this new gathering!

This painting, “She’s a Hand,” is by much-missed artist and horsewoman Joelle Smith (1958-2005). It was the subject of a 2010 Art Spur. The painting was inspired by Oregon cowgirl Mindy Kershner’s participation in the Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo. It was also the image selected for the 2009 “Cowboy Keeper Award” from the National
Day of the Cowboy organization. Find more about Joelle Smith at

Joelle Smith was our first Cowboy Poetry Week poster artist and her niece, Clara Smith was the 2018  poarwe artist. Find more about her at and find her impressive work at

Thanks to Sally Smith, mother of Joelle Smith and grandmother of Clara Smith, for her generous permissions.

(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem and image with this post, but for other uses, request permission.)