Saturday, December 11, 2010

Poets and Storytellers

Last night was poetry and story-telling at the neighbors. "Come back any time," the old-timers called as we left, and I felt like I could.

Somebody read a family story of the hired gun "range detective" who simply shot people when they went out to chop a load of wood or saddle a horse, because their neighbors asked them to quit the country and they didn't.

And we heard the brand-new story of two sheepherders at Christmas on Pony Bar and I laughed so hard my belly hurt at the part where the sheepherder's hat flew off and stuck on her face when she was getting bucked off her mule in the middle of a race. And funniest of all, the old timer reciting the one about the girl who found herself dating a cowboy and his dog and ended up liking the hairy kisses of both.

We did talk a little politics, a little craziness we see going on right here, with people not wanting to share, with people not having to work a place to own it, not needing their neighbors. And we pulled ourselves in with a soft-feel, like horse-whisperers, as one cowboy reminded us, "What would Tom Dorrance do?"

Ice along the Imnaha
I didn't share the poem I wrote, but I like it better since I heard the poetry and stories last night. The questions  and emotions about where we live and how we can talk to others when we hear them out in the world saying, this is what the local folks think and do, and it's not.

There is so much that we learn from the places we live in. And often not with words. And we have to learn to tell it, to look at the other animals in the room and ask ourselves: Where is the life energy? Where is the fear? How much pressure should we give? When to release?

Here is the poem.

December, Dug Bar

What matters
is not the time or date, but the light and wind and chill,
the snow clouds blotting out the trail.

After dark, I hear your packstring
clump in on the frozen ground,
and I go to the barn so I can see you alive, unsaddling the beasts, their breath fogging the air.

It feels like we are in the bible,
flood and famine, whatever God writes.

I’m saying I think I understand this grass
this water, these gates and trails.

I’m saying I can see the locust grove
swinging in the basin high above us,
the place we rest sometimes, as if our graves lay there.

SI Miller 12 10 2010
Mike headed home ahead of the storm

From Sara at Mapgie Ranch, home of Bunchgrass Beef