“Visiting the Real Ranch”

—for Oscar

Listen to Sally Ball read this poem.

Here there are places remarkable
for how no one ever comes—no asphalt,
no people, no trivia:

only hills, creeks, cattle.

Some irritating prairie dogs protected
by environmental urgency,
who are interesting,
even comic, even as they
wreck the place.

I hope you get to live somewhere like this,
so much yourself you could take charge
of such a solid stand of hills,
you could receive this holy light,
keen and fleeting.

At every moment the valley brimming,
the valley empty.

—Though you are nearly always happy,
and this place does not seem happy.

Happiness is for
******************—what? whom? 

The one wish, it is my one wish.

Oh, you’re such a ham, who would you amuse—

the horse, the white horse on his hill?