via Daily Prompt: UncompromisingI was in the outback, far north, staying at a cattle station just before the mustering began.Standing by the corral at dawn, I didn’t notice him while he worked, so entranced was I, by it all. But when he stood patiently waiting for toast to turn brown, sipping billy tea from a tin mug, “g’day” escaping from the corner of his mouth, he caught my eye. He had an aura. It was how he worked the horses, that made him unique.
Later that day, my hearing acute, I heard his spurs clink as he walked the length of the verandah and out of sight. He returned showered, unrecognizable, without the red dust that powdered him. He sat down slowly, as if in pain, guitar cradled in his lap, a beer clenched in a calloused fist. His feet were bare, untouched by the sun they glowed infant pink. His arms were also bare, nut brown and muscled from reining in, a black bandana around his head, adding colour. He took a thirsty swig, leaned over and placed the bottle on the grass in the space that separated us.
He tilted his head as he strummed, found the right chords and began to sing.
His voice silenced us all but not the open fire that roared like a cheer, in the big drum.
There was something about him that was different. It made me curious, I knew I was going to learn something new. I settled in deeper into my skin, took notes, always the student, fully engaged. I watched every move, trying to read him like a book. This was no therapeutic encounter, so my eyes scanned the pages. The title captivated, it was bold and said it all. Cowboy! I skimmed the chapters inked on skin. I leaned closer and read between the lines as he sang.
He sang about love. He sang about loss. He sang about wide-open spaces and empty places. He sang his memory. All familiar territory of a caged bird, now free.
Through his birdsong, he believes, all roads lead him to ‘The Now’. His path is unhindered by regrets, ifs and buts, so he follows it, as intended. He travels the world, searching for the horse that no one can ride. For him, life and love, is that simple.
A log on the fire shattered, embers cascaded to the ground.
We all went our separate ways into the night….
I waited for this day to write about him, so I am there in memory. Because, I once met a cowboy who embraced a purpose driven life, with uncompromising integrity. I know he sings alone but is never lonely. The moon and stars keep him company.
If you ever meet Joe, let him know, while he was singing, I downloaded his co-ordinates and brought his direction in life, back home to the city, with me.
Until next time
a dawn bird
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