The Rider

Listen, cowboy–
the way the dust expires
from the spurs of your boots.
It foreshadows you
holding to that rope:
bouquet of pruned rosin
warmed between leather gloves.

In those first seconds,
born again, emerging
from the unlatched iron
womb, the sun feels close
enough to keep,
locked forever between
palm and lace.

It will not last.
Your hand can only reach
for heaven so long
before it falters.
You feel it now:
the chariot vaulting,
body folding prone
as the last shadows
of an eight-count bell
expire.

In that last moment,
you will be thrown:
floating, falling
I will not know.
And what then
but to watch you,
and reach out my hand
to hold you when
you cannot hold,
and listen to that silence
that told me all along?