In High Country
I am not too proud to ask for a tame horse. A quiet horse. A gentle, very small, obedient, and polite horse. Lightning is white; her eyes rimmed with pink. Ten of us ride single file up steep mountain paths, our horses picking their way like models on a runway: one foot precisely in front of the other; a slow, painstakingly stomach lurching, don’t look down, will it ever end climb. From some plateau, we can see for miles: Yellowstone’s whipped cream peaks across the vastness. Lightning pretends to be asleep, but as I remount, she strolls away, leaving my foot in mid arabesque over the saddle.
At last toward dusk, a meadow appears, the wranglers locate a spring, they raise our tents. For a toilet, they dig a hole beneath a pine. The horses are set free to roam. I don’t care if I ever see Lightning again. My straw cowboy hat resembles a soggy English muffin, sitting is out of the question, and my legs feel permanently bowed. Around the campfire we sing “I’m an Arizona cowboy.” The sky holds so many stars.
the horses steam
in summer snow