Down the trail bobs the braid,
Up and down, up and down --
Buoy on a lake in the middle of a forgotten town,
Traced down the back of the woman who combed it,
Fingers alone, mirror angled behind her,
Shoulders — shrugged up, arms — tired,
Stretched back behind her head; with every cross
Of a hand she breathes her title in:
At night she chants herself to sleep in that dream,
Then: wake up, time to go,
Rise and braid the hair tight to the skull, locking
In her memories, her secrets, her ideas of who
She might one day be, she who calls herself the
And the crowd goes wild and she hears them sing!
They dance with her as she rounds the boundaries
Of the practice field, a dirt patch in town,
Where nobody can quit and everybody dreams beyond
The endless valleys, beyond the shadows
Of skinny rats, scurrying under bar lights in the alleys.
Every day is a new story where she can hear her own name,
And it's all sealed up in those moments, amidst the crowd,
In the braid — she dares not ride her horse without it, without
Her stories close by, thumping themselves out along her spine,
Spiraling with the clock in her heart that tells her to run,
Far away. Her horse knows the way — to the practice field
In a flurry, he dare not stop for chest to heave,
He dare not escape her might or pull,
He dare not run without his Rodeo Queen.
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