Mesteño

Sagebrush paints the prairie, as far as the eye can see;
Rolling hills and tall blue mountains, where the rivers still run free.
There’s a pinkish glow on dawn-born clouds and a freshness in the sky;
Lupine and showy daisies dot the grass and soothe the eye.

Then the sun crests over Wyoming, and new light gilds the sage;
Meadowlarks call up the day, and one more night turns its page.
Pronghorns graze the horizon, and a sage grouse struts his pride;
The skull of a bison, decayed with the years, grows over with grass where he died.

A distant rumble from far away rocks the ear like distant surf;
It rattles the ground like an earthquake, and its thunder shakes the turf.
Wild are the hooves that come pounding, free like the song the wind sang;
The forms that soon line the skyline scream out the name—Mustang!

The gray stud is bold and daring, his eyes and heart afire;
Perfect young colts, with wings on their feet, know he is their sire.
Mesteño, the Spanish called them, brothers to earth, wind, and sky;
Mustang, the boldest creatures of all—much like the eagle, they fly.

With manes like flowing water that laps at each gleaming neck,
And tails that whip like the sail of a ship as over the prairie they trek.
The stud’s hide is scarred like the badlands, by the hooves and the teeth of his foes;
It is only a painting of past deeds of valor he carries wherever he goes.

Men have tried to break their spirit, to drive them to ground for good;
They’ve shot down the stallions and broken the young—chased them whenever they could.
Mesteño, you’re bold and daring, but will you live on in this land?
Or will man lay you low, where sagebrush winds blow, till you make your final stand?

There are black clouds looming on the hill, and high winds bat the prairie;
There are horsemen coming on the run who won’t let the mustang tarry.
Will your spirit live free, my brother, and fly like a Spanish galleon?
Will we hear in the wind and smell on the earth, the soul of the mustang stallion?

Raise your voice, you wild mustang, with a melody primal and bold;
Sing your song of freedom, until the last word has been told.
Go out the way you came in now, with the prairie winds sweeping your tail,
Leave empty plains to cry for your loss, under the sky, cold and pale.

They can’t take your freedom—it’s carried in veins that course with your blood—
Your heartbeat is there in the glistening chest of the prancing, midnight stud;
They’ve driven you off of your home range—now the prairie folds swallow the plow;
But your soul will live on in the colts you sired; they roam the prairie now.

                                                                                                   Kirby Jonas, August 26, 1996

Featured photo: Jet, one of the Sand Wash Basin mustangs, in Colorado
by John Wagner