The 2River View 17.4 (Summer 2013)

Taylor Graham

Border Patrol

Sun's behind the mountain,
sky barely dim enough to see—
it's coyote hunting time.
We aim for the wild north corner
through rimrock, up the creek
that rips our fence out after storms—
fence we put up to keep
sheep in, aliens out. My dogs
alert me. This morning
Loki dashes ahead, small,
sable Shepherd; in faint light,
I might mistake her
for those marauders. Boogie
pads along beside me,
assures it's safe
to let the sheep out—a new
lamb, no older than the ones
killed by coyotes,
those aliens who lived here
long before we came.

Cowboy in the Woods

I'd lost the trail from Thunder Mountain
to my car. I was consulting my map,
following dog and sun through aspen
grove when, from between trees,
rode a cowboy. He reined up his sorrel
right in front of me, hooves almost touching
the toes of my boots. “This is private
property, you're in trespass.” Raspy voice,
clipped like horseshoe on granite. Nice
sorrel, careful on its hooves. “Name's
Denny Martin, I work for Mr. Scott,
he owns this land. Roadhead's off in that
direction.” He gestured past his shoulder;
then, without seeming to move, shifted
his weight in the saddle. Cowboy
and horse disappeared into forest, leaving
just a breath of tobacco behind. As if
he'd ridden straight off the Marlboro prairie
into that upcountry aspen grove. Two years
later, I happened on the obit. Denny
Martin dead, lung cancer. What caught
in my throat wasn't barbwire.
I wonder what happened to his horse

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the California Sierra. Her poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, The New York Quarterly, Poetry International, Southern Humanities Review, and Villanelles (Everyman’s Library) and California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present. contact