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"The Reunion"

by Susan Grieve from Victoria, BC, Canada


Round Westwood Swamp near Wellington,
Where the cougar's eerie cry
Pricks up the hairs upon your neck
When sunset streaks the sky,
A young boy rode his horse to home
All decked out, post parade,
In chaps of golden goatskin,
As light began to fade.
And as a small child steeped in dreams,
She wished that she could be
Like him, trick riding, on a horse,
For all the world to see.

By Puntataenkut and Tzenzaicut Lake
And where the Nazko River flows,
A young man herded cattle
Midst the moose and mosquitoes.
By lodgepole pine and aspen groves,
In swamps and sloughgrass too,
He rode upon the northern range
In the land called the Cariboo.

And oh, those tales she loved to hear
Of horse and ranch and sky.
And just to sit upon a horse
This child dreamed to try.
So she picked and gathered hay by hand
And stacked it in the shed,
To show him that to have a horse
She was both born and bred.

There's cougar on the Island,
And the Blue Tick baying hound
And the trail bark then tree bark,
Was where bounty could be found.
And she ran along behind him,
In pursuit of government cash,
Through the sting of the whipping branches
And the mess of the logging slash.

Poem "The Reunion"

And later in the campfire glow
At night when embers swirl,
He cursed his luck, no son was there,
Instead there was the girl.
And her dreams of horses faded,
Where the fog and the mist does blow
In brooding cedars and Sitka spruce
And in the rasp of the raven's crow.

On another night in a hospital room
An old man prepared to die
His son was there beside him
To hear his anguished cry.
While years of pained denial
In his old memories did whirl
He made his peace there with his son,
But he wouldn't with the girl.

In a small corral on the forest edge
As the bay horse nudged her sleeve,
The hair on the neck of a woman
Pricked up on a summer's eve.
And there on the cut bank rim above
Where the horse and woman stood,
A golden pair of primordial eyes
Stared down from the darkened wood.

The bay, it lunged in terror
And snorting, wheeled around,
The woman grabbed a pike pole
And defiant, stood her ground.
"You can't have my long lost dream!"
Was the woman's angry wail.
The sweating bay it rolled its eyes.
The big cat flicked his tail.

She kept her angry vigil
Beneath the steadfast golden eyes,
'Til the wee hours of morning
When the Blue Tick hounds arrived,
And relieved, no shots, just trail barks
Had echoed through the hills,
As she remembered the Indian legend:
The hunter returns as what he kills.


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