When Norman sent me for the cows
I couldn’t bring them in. They stood
As if they had all day to browse
The short grass down, as if they could
Graze all the way to China. When
I hollered, some of them would swing
Their huge heads round and stare and then
They’d swish and stamp and blink to bring
My eight years into focus. Damn!
I had to go and get the dog.
And everything I think I am
Still sees them file out of the bog
Down by the stockpond, up the hill,
Back to the barn, the dog behind,
And I behind the dog. I still
Remember how he made them mind.
—from Rattle #30, Winter 2008
Tribute to Cowboy & Western Poetry
Laurence Snydal: “I was raised in town but spent much of the summer on the farm when I was a kid. It was a wheat farm in arid western North Dakota and there was a small herd of milk cattle. I can still feel the fierce heat of midsummer as I trudged on that long-ago chore. I hope you feel it too and that you marvel at the dog’s easy authority.”