photo © Jessica Lifland
100 YEARS FROM NOW
by Doris Daley
100 years from now, if the world’s still in the game,
May the earth recall our footprints, may the wind sing out our names.
May someone turn a page and hearken back upon this time,
May someone sing a cowboy tune and someone spin a rhyme.
History buffs will study us and time will tell its tales
Our lives will be a brittle pile of cold and quaint details.
A scrap of faded photograph, a news headline or two…
But life was so much more, my friend, when the century was new.
100 years from now, don’t look back and think me quaint,
Don’t judge and call me sinner, don’t judge and call me saint.
We lived beneath the arch with a mix of grit and grace,
Just ordinary folk in an extraordinary place.
So 100 years from now hear our ancient voices call,
Know that life was good and the cowboy still rode tall.
Wild flowers filled our valleys and the coyotes were our choir
We knew some wild places that had never known the wire.
We raised stouthearted horses; we’d ride and let ‘er rip
We burned beneath the summer sun and railed at winter’s grip.
We took a little courage when the crocus bloomed each spring
We loved beneath the stars and we heard the night wind sing.
We buried and we married, we danced and laughed and cried
And there were times we failed, but let the records show we tried.
And sure, I have regrets; I made more than one mistake
If I had it to do over there are trails I wouldn’t take.
But the sun rose up each day, we’d make it through another year
We’d watch the skies and count our calves and hoist a cup of cheer.
We knew drought and fire and heartache, we knew fat and we knew bone
But we were silver lining people and we never rode alone.
So, Friend, if you are reading this 100 years from now
Understand that we were pilgrims who just made it through somehow.
We’ve crossed the river home and we left but one request:
100 years from now, think back kindly on the west.
And ordinary folk, no special fate, no special claims
But 100 years from now, may the wind sing out our names.
Know the times were good and we rode the best we know.
We loved the west; we kept the faith, 100 years ago.
© 2004, Doris Daley
This poem should not be reprinted or reposted without permission
A great Cowboy Poetry Week is behind us, and we’re glad to still have the best of the best to share.
Ranch-raised Albertan Doris Daley is known for her outstanding writing and impressive stage presence. Top cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell has commented, “If cowboy poetry was fresh milk and the cream that rises to the top was the very best, then Doris Daley would
be very rich and very fattening.”
Doris told us, “There are two things about this picture that fit the poem: it was taken in The Rockies, which provided much inspiration for the poem, and the chaps I’m wearing belonged to Mattie Blair, much beloved neighbour, pioneer and surrogate grandmother. I inherited them when she died. What a timeless reminder that the things and the people we love about the west roll on from generation to generation.”
Find more about Doris Daley at dorisdaley.com.
This photograph of Doris Daley is by respected photojournalist Jessica Lifland (Instagram). Doris commented, “I remember that trip well, photo credit goes to Jessica Lifland who flew up to Alberta and rode along on the trip…”
Jessica Lifland is one of the official photographers for the Western Folklife Center’s National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Find her recently posted 2020 highlights and other gathering photos and her Cowboy Poetry Project photos.
(Please respect copyright. Request permission for use of this poem or photograph.)