Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Toppenish, Washington.
VISITORS (The Caretaker)
Hilma (Volcano) Volk
Last night I heard
this strange sound,
Kind of eerie, hard to describe.
Wasn't no owl nor coyote,
More like ghosts of an Indian tribe.
Sort of drummin', sort of chantin',
All so very dim.
I climbed from bed to listen.
Seemed was coming from the rim.
I walked outside, The stars were bright.
The air was frosty cold.
But that's not what made me shiver,
Twas the things I saw unfold.
A chief in feathered headdress,
A lovely maiden by his side,
Slowly walked toward me.
You could see right through his leathery hide.
Then as he stood before me
He took on solid form.
He raised his hand, a sign of peace;
His face was kind and warm.
He said, "I speak to you the owner."
I said, "I'm not". He said, "I
You are caretaker - a noble word -
A steward, is that not so?
"The man who pays the mortgage
Lives in a big suburban house.
You see him twice a year perhaps
When he hunts for deer or grouse.
"He tells his friends he owns a ranch,
But he never smells the sage
Or stops to watch the circling hawk.
His mind is bird in cage.
"He owns a piece of paper
That he pays his taxes on.
What will happen to this land then
When he goes to the great beyond?
"His children will not want it.
They'll divide it up and sell
Five acre lots of houses.
No more will sage grouse dwell.
"That will be a sad day," he said.
I agreed with nodding head.
"But what could I do about it?"
I asked this wise one from the dead.
"There is nothing you can do."
"Then why did you come here?"
"To talk of ownership and stewardship
And a death you need not fear.
"He thinks he owns a house and land.
But these he cannot keep.
He is steward of financial deals.
And what you sow you reap.
"His heaven will still have board rooms,
Making wheels and deals.
He'll keep the illusion of ownership
Because he likes the way it feels.
"Truly where I dwell, my friend,
There's a happy hunting ground
With water, sweet, and buffalo,
And deer and elk abound.
"The things you try to grasp on tight
Will be water through your fingers.
But what you drink into your soul
Will be the joy that lingers.
"I tell you this for you feel shame
In being called 'caretaker.'
But is not that the grandest word
That can be bestowed on by our maker?"
I started to ask a question.
But his form had turned to air.
I drank in all the brilliant stars
And the mountains way out there.
I owned next to nothing
Yet all of this was mine,
And would be through eternity;
For the fruits reflect the vine.
HE WHO LIVES
BY THE CLOCK
BY THE CLOCK