(From Cow Trails and Wagon Tracks)

By Arnold Hokanson

A corral gate swings
On creaking hinges.
The wind blows
Through the barn,
Through a broken
Window pane.
Loose shingles clatter
Upon the roof,
Tapping out a sorrowful
Refrain.

Corrals that were built
And maintained with care,
Once painted a glistening white
Have peeled and faded,
And are checked
By the weather.
They stand like a ghost
In the night.

The cuttin’ alley
Stands empty now.
Where numbers of cattle
Were sorted with pride.
Inside the barn a saddle
Hangs on the wall.
An old saddle that he used to ride.

The ranch house
Where voices used to ring,
From which his hardy laughter
Would boom
Is now graced with a shroud
Of silence
Worthy of the depths
Of a tomb.

The yard where boots
Once strode with purpose,
There is nothing but dust
Strafed by the wind now
With nary a sign
Of a footprint,
Just the occasional
Track of a cow.

The hills where the finest
Of cattle once grazed,
Purebred stock bred only
For seed,
Have now given way
To the modern day,
To a different type
And breed.

A ranch that began
As only a dream,
A dream that flourished and grew.
Though the dream is no more,
The shell still stands
As proof that dreams can
Come true.

The old ranch stands abandoned now,
A witness to its own fate.
Its story is told loud and bold
By that swinging,
Creaking gate.