Lament of the Frontier

(For my grandfather)

In the Dry Land, rain fell sideways heavy and half-frozen
upon tilted hats and upturned collars the way it always fell.
Forlorn thunder, the steady brown dirt and grass of all seasons
trembled in the warmest winter since you left for the city.

I rode and rode the hills
to watch the flood plain fill.

There is no riding left. No bluff, river, or levee.
Who cut these mountains small?
Who planted the bones of this wheat seed
now choked with wintry deluge,
and choked with heat soon
yielding a sweltered summer wind which echoes
down the valleys?

Is this wind distilled in the same snowcapped mountains
from your farthest trip West?
What of those two perfect days
saddled between solstice
when wind is swollen of wild daisy or huckleberry and there’s nothing
but to stand knee deep and watch the peach sky drop?

Fence posts rot. Barbed wire is planted in the earth
and blood, glove, and gun are interned with the buried borders.
And those who once rode are now snow-covered,

Crippled and shrunken like the trees
of the desert.
The desert that might swallow child or cattle.
And I’ll die here too,


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