Fifty-four years had passed since he last took the switchback
leading to the old ranch. He remembered riding standing up
in the bed of the truck wearing his first pair of pint-size ropers
with no socks and carrying a pocket knife.
As he drew closer, the low rumble of the diesel and scent of the sagebrush
gripped him. He pulled over leaving the truck silent, loaded with lumber
and the door open. Inside, hanging from the rearview mirror was a cross,
made of fool’s gold, sending prisms with the breeze.
Silas perched himself on the boulder.
Leaning back and crossing his feet he fiddled with the season’s blade of grass,
tasting it. His eyes fell into the shadow from the brim of his canted Stetson.
It was time to tend to his grandfather’s unfinished dream.
Ely and his father both worked the mines
Never the same shift
Sharing similar features for a father and son
Right down to the rough-hewn hands and eyelashes
Inscribed with coal dust
When things got rough underground
After eight dark hours, the sight of this elevator told them
What kind of day it was above ground
Metal siding flapping like a tape measure in the wind
Sounding much like their empty lunch pales being collected
Maybe a few more shingles or boards blown off
Today is a good day
The sky is favorable
If I were an Aspen
I would inherit the knowledge of believing in myself.
I would understand tremble lives in everyone.
My bark, my ledger
would reveal knots and burs, failed attempts,
my imperfections, my succession.
I’d send out roots
I’d reach for you
I’d dress in gold once a year, in light of the quake.
Emmitt‘s dream to build a family business
was proceeded by seven harsh winters on the ranch.
The pressure he felt to provide for his family was self-imposed, maybe inherited.
Sale of equipment, all but the tractor, funded his notion.
He was a good man with good intentions.
Leaving their only car at home for his wife and kids
He drove his tractor to work, parked it out back,
Monday through Saturday for fifteen years, this suited him.
While on his daily passage he studied, noting the changes in his surroundings.
In the distance, he saw new highways with ramps and four story buildings.
In the mailbox, college acceptance letters for his kids.
Realizing his dream was not theirs,
Emmitt closed the business before they closed him.
Forever a rancher, in his heart.
They took her –
Sorry sonsabitches pried d’winda up,
smashed the glass and took her.
Been wit me since she’s a pup.
I found her in d’ditch down by the mailbox
Where some other sorry sonsabitches done left her.
Was so small, she fit right in my hand.
Once I cleaned her up and give’r some food
She took to me, follerin me all over the place.
Her lil’ teeth, they’s sharp as needles.
Chewed right through my glove, wit’ me in it!
That first month she fit in my coat pocket and once her legs grew
She’d always beat me to the truck.
And Smart, I’m tellin you.
She had a keen sense.
Kinda queer to think she knew when I’s in trouble.
Like the time I gotta snakebite and couldn’t walk,
she dragged that old locust post over so I could use it like a crutch.
She figured out how to unlatch the door to let her self out
Even caught her hiding her bowl when she wanted my food.
She was particular fond of sharin my potpie.
Never knew how gooda company a dog could be.
We spent a lotta years together
travelin around the countryside
she done grew old before me.
Today I went to town by myself, first time in 17 years
I needed some plywood to repair her doghouse
Readyin it for winter.
Bein her hearin was gone, she laid sleepin
on floor. I left her to sleep while I picked up supplies.
Half expectin her to be waitin for me at the end of the lane when I got back.
I turned down the road to see d’door shut tight
and got an awful feelin in my gut.
Pulled up to d’house, busted glass everywhere
and my Sissy gone.
When they’s took her they stole a’ part of me.
No point stayin
I boarded up d’place
No point stayin…bein reminded.