A horse is worth more than riches
– old proverb
Steadfast, the kind she could ride on tricky
mountain trails, searching for a lost hiker.
Her family – old-time ranchers after the Gold Rush –
the family’s money all tied up in land and horses.
We were newcomers, following our search dogs
on trail of a suicidal guy. From horseback
she looked down with a tight-lipped grin and eyes
like specks of gold in a streambed. Not much
for words. She hauled our stuff from storage
in her horse-trailer.
Friend but not the visit-all-the-time kind,
not the share-your-secrets kind. Years later
we walked into a room of strangers who keep
the land’s horse-history alive. There she was,
tight-lipped grin and gold-sparkle eyes to see us.
Who knew what secrets the grin wasn’t letting out?
Four months later she was dead of a cancer
she had no money to fight. She’d never sell her
horses. There are good ones on the other side.
By Taylor Graham
Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada, and serves as El Dorado County’s first poet laureate (2016-2018). The places she searches and trains her dogs are often where the homeless camp or were recently evicted. Her poems are included in Homeless Issues (newsletter of the local Job’s Shelter of the Sierra) as well as the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman’s Library) and California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University). Her latest books are What the Wind Says (Lummox Press, 2013) and Uplift (Cold River Press, 2016).