Day of Change

Lawrence Holofcener

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On the fringes of Fort Worth

A man sat above a wooden gate

Checking and counting cattle

Before a sluice which shut the sun

Forever from their eyes. 

Sudden-like, no warning at all

The man jumped down

Into the narrow passage

Onto the wide back of a mud-spattered

Black and white longhorn steer. 

Before others could stop him

The man backed the heifer

Through the gate

To one of the side yards

Through the larger pen

And out to the vast round-up field.

Scared but determined

The checkerman slid down

From the fattened steer

Yelled at it, his arm showing it

Its freedom in the distance. 

The animal seemed rooted.

The man removed his jacket

And swatted the steer on the flanks. 

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