Sunset on the Trail
by Mark Fleisher

An old man’s still strong
fingers gripped his cane
limped onto the front porch
maneuvered a lean frame
into a favorite rocking chair

He turned a leathery face
toward the Western sky
bathed in delicate pink
and glowing orange
colors of a Southwest sunset

His eyes closed; thoughts
remembering times
as a rugged cowpuncher
driving thousand-pound steers
to Kansas railheads

The old man wistfully smiled
pictured himself taking his turn
riding drag enveloped
in a gritty, swirling
cloud of endless dust

He tasted bitter coffee again
the nightly chuck wagon meal
of beans, hardtack, dried beef
playing cards with the others
before unraveling a bedroll

Returning to present day
the old man listened to
his barely audible hum
then he began to sing
some old cowboy song

“See those tumbleweeds a blowin'
Lord, It makes me want to cry
It reminds me of my Daddy
And that Texas Lullaby”

He again closed his eyes
his body slumped in the rocker
quivered for barely a second
before breathing a final breath
into the still night air


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