Home on the Range

January 2005

The leather-skinned man sits on a spotted range horse,
dangling from his parched lips. the butt of a camel.
His right thumb and index finger are poised to grab
the cigarette. The cowboy’s left hand grips a coiled lasso.
Under a hand-sewn leather hat
his squinting eyes scan the Colorado canyon,
always on guard for the gringo foreman.

Joel likes being around cattle.
Their smell, their bovine passivity,
their simple devotion to the herd.
He knows smoking is forbidden
on the parched range, there has been
no rain in ninety days.

Three hundred miles south his wife
Yolanda, his mother, his six children
all rely on Joel’s weekly green check
now folded into his brown shirt pocket,
The precious plastic phone card,
His only link to home.

—Marilyn Meyer, Seattle, WA