by Mark Munzert
I was down to the mill to pick-up some feed.
I caught a ‘drift’, this kid had been puffin’ weed.
This young feller there, not movin’ too fast.
He nodded at me, in the aisle we passed.
Didn’t cipher it right-off but now I knew who he was.
The grapevine alluded his penchant for wacky-weed buzz.
I’d known his Dad before he’d passed on.
The youngin’ was lookin’ for gloves to don.
His boots was lacers, neither one tied.
He picked the thick lined mitts he had tried.
His Dad would’a led ‘em to lace ‘is boots up tight,
Likely would’a told him to tuck his shirt in right.
We’re waiting to pay and he sticks out his hand.
The callouses told me he had his old-man’s sand.
He addressed me as ‘Sir’. “You were friends with my Dad.”
He winced as he said it, his expression was sad.
Many years before his Pa and I were thick as kin.
‘I thought that was you, you’ve grown-up some, how long’s it been?’
“Not countin’ my Dad’s fun’ral, the homecoming game four years ago.
Before that, in the winter, my junior year, you gave us a tow.”
His father pulled away after my divorce. My ‘ex’ was good pals with his mother.
I understood. Yet, his Paw and me knew either would have the back of the other.
We run into each other once in awhile after that and catch-up on daily life.
He’d invite me to “stop by anytime” to try an’ “reclaim the good graces with the wife.”
We both knew that wouldn’t work but there was always int’rest and goodwill.
Oddly enough, the last I saw him breathing was right there at the mill.
“That’s a nice hat, is it new?” ‘No, act’lly had it quite a while.’
“Dad had one with that same crown” he chuckled with a wry smile.
“I don’t wear mine often, it gets in the way as I’m shoein’ for a livin’.
But Mom stressed I wear one the other day, took family pi’tures at Thanksgivin’.
Always makes me think of him, got all his old ones.
I keep ‘em in an old trunk with all of ’is guns.”
‘Maybe you should start wearing your Dad’s old brim,
He’d be honored and as reminder of him.’
He surely is a personable sort, no doubt an inherited trait.
I was dern near tempted to talk about the weed an’ put his butt a’ straight.
It struck me, it wasn’t my right to pass judgement on this young son.
He’d been through more than most and sure enough it weren’t a lot of fun.
Dreams shattered, no school, no sports, and now a hard-working buck.
Losin’ his heeler, his hero, his Dad, was real tough luck.
I didn’t approve of his chosen aroma but we all go through seasons.
And maybe, just maybe, the Lord put us together today for a reason.
I asks him to breakfast an’ we did us some talkin’.
Spoke of times with his Dad and the path he was walkin’.
Politely tried to pick-up the check ‘fore I reminded him ’twas my invitation.
Said he enjoyed the chow n’ catchin’-up, and we agreed, next week, same time n’ station.
Been ten weeks for breakfast, and we both enjoy the chat.
This morning I noticed, he’s wearing his old man’s hat.
Mark Munzert has been branded ‘the Cowboy Poet of the Northeast’ as his present home is in upstate New York’s Mountains region. The ranch-hand, descendant of horse-folk, cow-losopher performs regularly at Western events, dude ranches, and many Cowboy Gatherings. Contact him at 315.480.7586 or firstname.lastname@example.org