The Poet Strings Barbed Wire

By May 25, 2013 No Comments

The Poet Strings Barbed Wire

It’s been a long time since the poet strung a stand of barbed wire taunt and hammered a staple into a post to keep the wire in place.

More than 35 years in fact.

The first time was also in the spring. Asked to help the horse packer supplying the Grand Teton backcountry trail crews and range cabins, we spent a couple weeks repairing the fences around the park pasture. Migrating elk and marauding moose popped stands at will. It took a couple weeks, all off horseback. At the end of the weeks of pulling and twisting, we drove the stake truck and a trailer to the winter pasture and hauled the horses back.

A few years later, on a ranch in the high Colorado mountains, we ran cattle and horses. Again the elk ignored the issue of fence wire, as did the large white Brahma bull next door. They all strolled at will through five wires of barbs expecting us to trail behind joining the broken strands. And again, on a horse we rode the fences, twisting and pulling the broken twisted strands together in a semblance of a border.

So this last week, I repaired a half kilometers of fence and built another couple of kilometers new.

The first day was filled with slight and sometimes stronger memories and tricks.

You know, if we do this. . .

Opps, that’s not it.

At the end of the first day, I ambled down to the local hardware store and bought a new pair of calfskin work gloves. The smell of the leather’s tannins and the feel of the leather pulled snug on my hands took me right back to the cold mornings in the Tetons gathering the fencing tools in the first light. Cold. Quiet. The tool steel seeming even more brittle in the cold. The smell of the hay and oiled tack in the barn. The hard clank of steel on steel. The soft half swish of leather settling on the saddle blanket.

At the end of the second day, with tricks and memories coming back. I said to the boss man,

You know, it’s coming back.


You know what would really help?


A horse. I want a horse tomorrow.

He shook his head, the boss.

Not likely.