The fry bread sopped up the juice,
That, in the plate, lay thick and red,
A last gulp of steaming hot java,
He wiped his mouth and said,
"That was as fine a meal,
This old hand's ever pulled up to.
If you want, I'll pay for my keep,
Cause my old hoss needs a shoe."
"There's tack yonder in the barn,
Suppose you'll find what you need,
No need to pay for the meal,
Enjoy a man on the feed."
The coals glowed into the dark.
The shoe shown with amber heat.
The maul rang out into the night.
Needed it right for the horse's feet.
He had thoughts of the woman.
As steam, from the shoe, filled the sky.
Wondered why there was no man.
Wasn't in him to ask her why.
He thought of a long dead man,
He'd found a dew days back.
This western land was hard on a man,
With him showing just a little slack.
The desert land had told the tale,
As if writing on the wall.
It told of the gopher hole,
Broke leg and the fall.
The man had been pinned under his hoss,
With movement bringing on the pain.
A palmed revolver brought ease to the horse,
But for himself he could not do the same.
"There's a bunk in back over there,
You can stay if you have the mind."
Her voice shot his thoughts forward,
To this place, to this time.
Gratefully, he nodded his thanks,
As a file was taken to the shoe.
"Thank you kindly, believe I will."
He stood straight when he was through.
"Reckon I might stay around,
There's things that need to be done.
That corral looks to be needing to mend,
And for varmints I'm handy with a gun."
Though no word of ascent was given,
He saw the thanks in her eyes.
"Can't afford to pay for the help,
But come on, I've cooked up a pie."