NOT FOR SALE
by Janet Eggleston
When he called and said he’d like to buy
That saddle in our barn…
My first thought was just to sell it.
I couldn’t see what was the harm.
It was the last one that my daddy
Had ever ridden, and we knew
That he would never ride another.
That part of his life was now through.
So I went out into the barn…
Into the tack room where it hung…
Beneath a faded saddle blanket
Where spiders’ dusty cobwebs clung.
I brushed away the years of time…
And felt that leather ‘neath my hands;
And, in an instance, memories
filled me of my dad…a younger man.
That saddle brought to mind so many
Days and months and years with dad…
Of precious memories of my childhood…
Of times of happy and of sad.
I could see him, in my mind’s eye,
Riding out to check his cattle…
Sitting tall and straight and proud…
Upon that now-worn, empty saddle.
I saw him swing a rope with ease…
Tie a calf in nothing flat…
Rope a mad and sulled up bull…
Ride for miles ‘cross land so flat.
That saddle was a hard-fought prize
Won in a rodeo somewhere;
And, though he used it almost daily,
My dad had treated it with care.
And as I touched that saddle’s leather,
I smelled the scent of horses’
sweat; It had soaked up days of sunshine…
Been used in blizzards, cold and wet.
And I recalled the day he told me,
“No matter how tough are life’s battles,
A real cowboy will never, ever,
While he’s living, sell his saddle.”
And as I stood there in the dimness
Of that tack room in the barn,
I felt my daddy in that saddle.
It almost seemed alive and warm.
You see, a man is known a lot
By how he’s lived while on this earth…
The contributions that he’s made…
From years that stretch back to his birth.
My daddy was a special man…
And he lived well the cowboy code
Of pride in fam’ly, faith in God,
And sticking to the narrow road.
That piece of leather was a part
Of how my daddy spent his days…
Happy checking cows and calves…
Watching horses run and graze.
So, in that moment of connection,
As I stood, quiet, in the barn…
I cried, in thankfulness and love,
With daddy’s saddle in my arms.
And to the gentleman who’d asked,
I called him quickly, without fail,
And simply said, “Thanks for your offer.
My daddy’s saddle’s not for sale.”
© 2017, Janet Eggleston
This poem should not be reposted or reprinted without permission
Texas poet Janet Eggleston comments, “The event on which this poem happened is true. My father has been in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s disease for the past three years. A fellow cowboy asked to buy his saddle, and our family debated quite a while over what to do. (It is hard to know that your father will never ride a horse or use a saddle again.) We decided to leave his saddle in the barn until after he passes, but much laughter and many tears were shed as we remembered the wonderful cowboy he was. He is still a wonderful, amazing man…and we treasure every day we have with him!
Find more about Janet Eggleston and more of her poetry at CowboyPoetry.com.