A COWMAN’S LOT
by Terry Nash (with Mike Moutoux)
Two on the ground at the end of the day
And a heifer waitin’ for night.
Front’s movin’ in with the clouds thick and gray;
Her bag’s gettin’ swollen and tight.
Still in the saddle where he’d been all day,
Knowin’ sure tonight things would freeze,
Looked at the clouds like folks do when they pray;
“Lord, what makes ‘em pick nights like these?”
He hazed her out from the rest of the cows
And into a dry calvin’ pen.
Scattered straw he’d saved for times such as now
In a shelter, out of the wind.
Unsettled and restless, the young cow paced.
He’d seen this in calvin’ before.
She’d delay if he remained in her space;
He backed off and gave her some more.
The first flakes to fall were wet and wide-spaced;
A warning – soon they fell quicker.
Wind and Dark were neck and neck as they raced,
The cowboy pulled on his slicker.
He thought of supper; a wife who’d worry,
She’d watch for his truck at the gate.
He with a heifer no man could hurry
And decided supper could wait.
But most cowmen, at the end of the day
Would likely reflect on this spot –
He asked for this job and it weren’t for pay,
It’s the love of a cowman’s lot.
The temperature dropped, snow turned now to ice;
Stung his face like splinters of glass.
Through squinted eyes he watched her circle twice,
And then take a place in the grass.
She laid down and pushed, then stood up and strained,
Two circles, then back in the grass.
One foot was glimpsed but she stood up again,
looked his way – and the moment passed.
He turned to his chores to get out of sight,
Reminded she needed her space.
This labor could last plum into the night
And nothing would quicken the pace.
He fed all the horses, rode ‘mongst the cows,
Usin’ time he knew she required.
He rode back when done to check on her now,
And hopin’ she wasn’t too tired.
Two feet now emerged where just one had shown;
She labored, her calf to expel.
The cow then uttered a low quiet moan
And stretched out to rest for a spell.
In five more minutes a small head appeared,
Meantime the merc’ry was fallin’
The calf was soon out but the rancher feared
It’d need help or death would be callin’.
But the heifer’s up, inspectin’ her work.
Soft lowin’, she battled the cold.
Nuzzled and licked, the calf shivered and jerked.
The man marveled as instincts took hold.
She licked the calf clean, he tried out new feet,
Nose divin’ plum into the ground.
He then got a taste of mother’s milk sweet
And latched on to the spiggot he’d found.
The man grinned, to hear the smack of wet lips;
Knew the calf was gettin’ his meal.
Inner warmth would soon spread from nose to hips
and Mom’s rough tongue would seal the deal.
Steward of cattle, of birthright and land,
He’d not think of quittin’ this spot.
He’s there, if needed, to lend her a hand;
The best friend this young cow has got.
© 2013, Terry Nash (with Mike Moutoux)
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission
Colorado rancher and poet Terry Nash recites his poem in an impressive video by Chancey Bush, from earlier this week, in Grand Junction’s The Daily Sentinel. The Daily Sentinel also included an article by Erin McIntyre, “Loma rancher honored for cowboy prose.”
The poem is on Terry Nash’s recent CD, A Good Ride. Recently Terry was named Male Poet of the Year by the International Western Music Association and A Good Ride was named Cowboy Poetry CD of the Year by the IWMA.
Find more about Terry at terrynashcowboypoet.com.
Find more about Terry’s collaborator on this poem, cowboy, poet, and musician Mike Moutoux, at mikemoutoux.com.
(Please respect copyright. You can share this poem with this post, but for other uses, request permission.)