Graphic from the book for the top of odd-numbered pages

The Choice

They hunted the thundering flying herds over the
    range all day;
At evening they drove them through a gate and
    closed it and rode away.
At dawn they came with branding-irons, and they
    made the place a hell,
Curving queer snake lariats in the dust of the high
    corral.
Terror-eyed, the horses shied, and when the day was
    done,
With streaming mane to the open plain they dashed
    away--save one.
 
All night long in her narrow cage, a white mare
    fretted and foamed,
And shrilly called to her vanished matesom the shad-
    owed range they roamed.
The pride of the herd she was wise and strong,
    glossy, supple and fleet.
Never before had there been such eyes, such ears,
    such dainty feet.
Through the wooden bars she watched the stars as
    they burned the whole night through,
Then faded away. Through the morning gray she
    saw them come--and knew--
 
They caught her again with their leaping ropes, and
    blinded her gleaming eyes;
With bands of leather as strong as steel they bound
    her head and thighs;
They ripped her hide from shoulder to flank with
    heels of constant fire,
And her tongue grew dark with blood and foam, and
    dust, 'neath the jagged wire;
On the distant side of the high divide, her mates
    roamed free again,
Must she submit to an iron bit, a pair of spurs, and
    Pain?
 
With a mad disdain she gathered up for a last and
    mighty spring,
And left her rider beside the trail, a crumpled, broken
    thing, . . .
They brought to bay at the close of day, on the
    brink of a steep coulee;
She looked around, then plunged down -- down--,
    And that night she was--free.
___Dorothy Statton
 
Sunflowers, A Book of Kansas Poems
Selected by Willard Wattles
pages 67-68
(Chicago: A. C. McClurg. 1916)
 
July 22, 2004 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

Blue Skyways Kansas on the Net   Visit the Home Page for Kansas
  A service of the Kansas State Library