Writing & Women: Cowgirl Poetry & Stories

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All That is Left by Virginia Bennett, Winthrop, Washington,  1992

At the mouth of a redrock canyon
Near the base of a sandstone cliff
She stands there, a skeleton sentinel
With branches arthritic and stiff.
And those upturned fingers appear to pray
For water, though now, it’s too late.
Not far from her roots lies a rusty stove lid,
And the remains of a barbed-wire gate.

Not much, you might think, of a legacy,
Not much to remember them by.
Yet this site speaks readable volumes
To the wise and experienced eye.
And the tree, though now dead, says something,
An echo from a waterless grave.
For it tells of the hope of a homesteader,
And of the sacrifice somebody gave.

She stands enshrined, a personification
Of dreams and desires and grit.
For that old cottonwood was the first thing planted
When the flame of faith was lit.
Thriving under a pan of daily dishwater,
Her leaves a light color of jade,
Barefoot children swung from her branches
And a mother snapped beans in her shade.

But drought sucked the life from the homesteader,
Who eventually had to move on.
And within a few years, the tree had also withered
When its daily washwater was gone.
So, today, she stands guard in the canyon
And each storm brings a new limb to the ground,
And every spring, during the desert roundup
Weary cowboys delight in the kindling they’ve found.


3 Responses to “Writing & Women: Cowgirl Poetry & Stories”

  1. November 25, 2013 at 21:16

    “On the banks of the Limpopo river. . .”


    • November 26, 2013 at 07:08

      “Then Kolokolo Bird said, with a mournful cry, ‘Go to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, and find out.” Kipling’s Elephant’s Child?

      “Don’t you worry!
      I shall hurry,
      I’ll be round to see you soon.
      Shall I find you near the River,
      Near the old Limpopo River,
      Where the rains come down for ever
      From the Mountains of the Moon?”

      Dr. Concocter

      Thank you. I had never heard of the river nor Dr. Concocter nor the writing style.


  2. November 25, 2013 at 21:08

    I used to know the names and how to scan, iambs and stuff. Now I just like the way it sounds. “Dr. Concocter” on the banks of the Limpopo river is the same I think.


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