Hanging Valley


Photo courtesy iStockphoto?/?w dageldog

We pushed our ponies ‘long the ridge
What with the river running deep
Current too strong to get across
An’ us out scouting sheep

We were way up on a hogback
Where no trail ever went
Getting up near timberline
The horses might near spent

We cursed the rocks that barred our way
And packs that seemed to slip
We moved along through stunted growth
As it was we couldn’t quit

When a man gets close to timberline
Halfway ‘tween the earth and stars
The wind, it roams the heavens, free
All growth it curls and mars

We held our tempers with tight rein
Still cursing ‘neath our breath
It was a country all stood on edge
An’ bore the face of death

When we broke out in this meadow
A mountain, the top ’been cut off clean
It grew knee deep in wild flowers
Paintbrush, laurel, an’ mountain bean

We checked on all the edges
We rode it clear around
To see if there’s some other way
A trail going down

Set up camp in a piney grove
Beneath a full faced moon
That rode just over top the heads
Of flowers in full bloom

We cut our ponies loose to graze
On hard grass belly deep
Spread our tents an’ eating gear
Then prepared ourselves for sleep

We spent three days just lookin’ round
Though we never saw a track
Way up high by the foot of God
And someday I’m going back.


Hanging Valley excerpted from Latigoes, Leftovers & Lies by Fred Miller.