May 01, 2009

The Creak of the Leather

The west desert of Utah holds many treasures and secrets of the old west. Recently a group of friends rode out through the cedars near Vernon and watched a band of mustangs (wild horses) as the stallion pushed and directed his group of mares - sometimes towards them and sometimes away. Another friend, together with his brother and father have a large cattle operation just outside of Vernon. In one setting, you can see both cattle and wild horses. A couple of weeks ago, my son Peter and I rode out in the same general area along the Pony Express trail near one of the old way stations and one of the very few watering holes along the way to and from Nevada - Simpson Springs. There we encountered another band of mustangs of about the same configuration as well as cattle roaming the badlands. We had lunch in a draw where "the air was so quiet and dead" that it seemed we were actutally reliving the old classic poem by Bruce Kiskaddon - "The Creak of the Leather." I recited it to Peter as we were resting under the cedars with horses dozing nearby in the sun - hobbled and just waiting for us to get back on. I got to thinking that I should add this poem here. I hope you enjoy it. Peter and Indy are pictured in the photo.

The Creak of the Leather
by Bruce Kiskaddon

It's likely that you can remember
A corral at the foot of a hill
Some mornin' along in December
When the air was so cold and so still.
When the frost lay as light as a feather
And the stars had jest blinked out and gone.
Remember the creak of the leather
As you saddled your hoss in the dawn.

When the glow of the sunset had faded
And you reached the corral after night
On a hoss that was weary and jaded
And so hungry yore belt wasn't tight.
You felt about ready to weaken
You knowed you had been a long way
But the old saddle still kep a creakin'
Like it did at the start of the day.

Perhaps you can mind when yore saddle
Was standin' up high at the back
And you started a whale of a battle
When you got the old pony untracked.
How you and the hoss stuck together
Is a thing you caint hardly explain
And the rattle and creak of the leather
As it met with the jar and the strain.

You have been on a stand in the cedars
When the air was so quiet and dead
Not even some flies and mosquitoes
To buzz and make noise 'round yore head.
You watched for wild hosses or cattle
When the place was as silent as death
But you heard the soft creak of the saddle
Every time the hoss took a breath.

And when the round up was workin'
All day you had been ridin' hard
There wasn't a chance of your shirkin'
You was pulled for the second guard
A sad homesick feelin' come sneakin'
As you sung to the cows and the moon
And you heard the old saddle a creakin'
Along to the sound of the tune.

There was times when the sun was shore blazin'
On a perishin' hot summer day
Mirages would keep you a gazin'
And the dust devils danced far away
You cussed at the thirst and the weather
You rode at a slow joggin' trot
And you noticed somehow that the leather
Creaks different when once it gets hot.

When yore old and yore eyes have grown hollow
And your hair has a tinge of the snow
But there's always the memories that follow
From the trails of the dim long ago.
There are things that will haunt you forever
You notice that strange as it seems
One sound, the soft creak of the leather,
Weaves into your memories and dreams.

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