from a collection entitled Stirrup of the Sun & Moon

36°0553 N 105°5622 W

(Pecos Wilderness Area, New Mexico)

You and I were on horseback in a sunlit arroyo.
We weren't "lost" because Travelers are always at home in the great expanse
but somehow, some way, we misplaced the trail we were on
and storm clouds were gathering on the western horizon.

You pulled your long mane into a top knot and made offerings to the Four Winds.
A splash of water from a canteen.
A pinch of blue cornmeal, tobacco from an Arikara Ree twist.
Two fingers of your homemade pemmican you always made for the trail.

In a language I didn't understand, you asked for directions
from what you always used to call The Great Flow of What Is.

Two hawks circled above, and out of nowhere,
skittering onto the rocks nearby,
a Western Whiptail lizard appeared looking like a rainbow.

As if it were a posted notice from the Inner Landscape Transit Authority,
it faced the North, then East, then South, then West.
Then, as if it had never been there, it vanished into the shadows again.

"What'd it say?" I asked.
You smiled and started humming Dos Arbolitos.
I smiled and was reminded
of my childhood crush on Linda Ronstadt.

You told me the time had arrived for us to take different trails.
You said to keep honoring the life-giving blend
we had come to affectionately call “Green Chile Cowboy Zen.”

The last words I would ever hear in your voice:

Keep sitting like a mountain,
breathing like a forest, flowing like a river.
Keep riding the wind.
Keep dreaming, keep believing.
Rest when you need to, but keep moving.
Life is in love with movement.
When in doubt, turn to the buddha-nature of Nature herself.
Mother Earth offers us all the lessons we need
including those about freezing, thawing, and flowing.
Start to tell stories.
Disappear into them.
This is where the magic is.
This is how you will find your way
to the shimmer at the back of the world.

(c) 2019 / Frank LaRue Owen /

sound: Rain and Creosote / Dust to Dust / Steve Roach + Roger King