Time to Brand and Move On
by Walt McDonald

    All night my neighbor sharpened knives,
    weeks after church and parlor hosted friends
    to console him. Now, we were back,
    old neighbors to make the most of roundup,
    cattle to castrate and brand. We found him

    in the corral, gray-stubbled, widowed
    and gaunt, two stacks of fires with branding irons,
    the knives laid out on tables outside the gate,
    the cattle bunched and silent a mile away,
    his cowboys mounted, ready to move them along.

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