Temperatures low in the high country,
deer wintered here, still do
in the natural salt lick
of Warm Springs mound,
stepping over abandoned tracks
oozing tar in the Big Sky sun.
Once these rails would take you
to Chicago,Milwaukee, St. Paul--
I can still feel the pull of it and yet
they made a home of it.
The Cattle King and his million acres
whispered and some heard.
It wasn’t a hard life unless
you landed in the castle.
Sandstone ghosts still
adhere to the code of silence,
working in groups by day
and confined at night.
I don’t need to walk inside.
I know the soft brick and lack
of light,30 below, oil smoke, the rank
of too many bad men in one place.
Idleness bred insurrection,
so he made them build their own walls.
I can testify, fresh air changes a man.
I was falling asleep at the wheel,
so we pulled over at the edge of Deer Lodge,
where the horses seemed wilder
than they were. It is not a lie
that they ran in tandem
as we kissed. It wasn’t the sun
that caused the heat
that became unbearable. We fled,
got locked up next to a Volkswagon bug
with rust in the shape of starbursts.
And who knows how long
we would have stayed beneath that sun
if it had not been for the old man
returning from a stream that probably
always run clears. I swear he carried
his pole like a rifle. He’d had no luck.
Caught, we were shy. And I wish
we’d taken him at his word.
He’d said, “Don’t let me stop you.”
But damned if our separate homes