Habitat of Coyotes

Reads: 363  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 3

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Westerns  |  House: Booksie Classic
Abandoned Old Soldiers Home in Montana

Submitted: December 29, 2007

A A A | A A A

Submitted: December 29, 2007

A A A

A A A


Habitat of Coyotes

Crumbling red brick,
decorated with
accumulated tumble weed,
and gifted with a monumental view.
Porch of weathered wood,
lines of rotting wicker chairs,
once seating old and broken men -
the Old Soldiers’ Home
stands upon a hill
above a old Montana mining town,
forlorn
and unused for decades.

The broken, unpainted door gives
entrance to the single hallway,
two wards left and two wards right.
Ablutions block and kitchen in
buildings out the back.
Corrugated iron roof
all rusted through and sagging.
Glass in windows,
cracked or missing.
Meagre furnishings,
cots and dressers,
looted or collapsed,
old straw pallets home to fieldmice.

Once a fortnight -or lessI suspect -
the local saw-bones drove his buggy
up the winding gravel road –
now overgrown with weeds and bushes –
hitched his horse to the rail -
broken now -
did his rounds with haste,
left his bill,
and went down the hill again.

Wicker chairs upon the porch,
filled most days –
except the bitter winters –
with the lame, consumptive, and the limbless –
rejected and forgotten men.
Dressed in fading uniforms,
or bib overalls and woollen shirts,
draped in horse blankets as shawls.
Staring out at the mountains and the valley,
some play desultory games of checkers,
smoke their pipes,
or recount their endless dusty, boring days
of service in the West.

Veterans these of the Indian Wars,
of forced migrations and
maintaining reservation boundaries.
Immigrants mostly –
Buffalo Soldiers
in a separate ward,
chairs on the side porch –
straight off the boat
and into the Army.
Serve their hitch
and then decay –
worn out by years in the saddle,
legs bowed, spines compressed, arthritic –
then wind up here until their dying.
Buried –
without coffins or ceremony,
unmarked wooden crosses –
by a benevolent, thankful government –
out beyond the fence line;
out of sight,
and out of memory.

The derelict buildings –
out of memory now,
as is the town –
abandoned in the
Great Depression;
habitat for coyotes
and diamondbacks.

On dry and windy days
you can hear the
old men cry.



James Gagiikwe 2007


© Copyright 2017 James Gagiikwe. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Unknown

avatar

Author
Reply