• Ann

Watershed



A number of years ago I rode over the Continental Divide on horseback. Most of the horses were big sleek animals with calm demeanors - except for Legolas, a small white appaloosa who was nervously pacing. Great, I thought, I’m gonna get that one because I’m the smallest one in the group. I found out later that he was on probation - having made a spirited attempt on the last crossing to take his heavy-handed rider over a cliff. When I returned to tell the tale, my friend and poet Dorothy McFarland did me one better.


WATERSHED*


By Dorothy McFarland

for Ami


White Appaloosa

almost a ghost

the spotted pattern on the skin

invisible unless the hair is wet–

quick, not easy to ride

but he likes you

you have beautiful hands.


I think he must have channeled

the spirits of his ancestors

and their riders,

Utes,


for there on the ridgeline, at the cliff edge,

you saw the image of an ancient chief

eagle feathers braided in his hair

sitting a spotted horse–


and words without sounds

hung in the air:

you see, I told you

you would come back.


He chose to end his life, you thought,

here–

this cliff–

he leaped–


and in this moment

he gazes again

at the untracked West,

at what is on the other side.


You sit the white Appaloosa

you know him the way a good rider

knows a good horse

though the pattern of his skin

and the pathways of his soul

are invisible

like the pathways of your life

here

at this place

of vision.


* “To Live in this World: Poems” by Dorothy McFarland

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