Gentling Soul

Cowboy Poetry

I walked outside of the ranch house on an early summer's hot Texas morn. The air was picking up the scent of sagebrush and swirling it around my senses. I set my tincup of joe on the porch railing and took my long black hair in my hands, working it into one braid down my back. The land was just waking up too and all was awashed in a glorious sunrise scene. I stood there at the coral fence, watching the mares nudging their foals, still on their wobbly legs. I reached into my skirt pocket for their sugary treats and walked towards the coral. The horses never failed to enjoy their peppermint and horehound treats they knew could always be found in my palm.

While Breeze, my favorite riding mare, was lipping her treat from my hand, a movement from the corner of my eye, turned my head. That's when I saw him the first time...There outside the bunkhouse...stood the most handsomest and rugged cowboy I had ever seen. "He must be new to the outfit." I whispered to myself..."For certain I would have noticed HIM before.-Curly must have hired him on."

Since daddy died a few years back, leaving the ranch and 85 acres of land to me, I had pretty much left the hiring of the hands to Curly, our long-trusted foreman.

My lips became suddenly dry as I licked them moist, watching him stretch his lanky limbs towards the West Texas sky. He turned his head towards me then and stopped mid-stretch as though as taken-aback as were I. he gave a lazy grin my way, nodded and touched the brim of his Stetson in greeting. I smiled back and gave a bit of a nod in his direction. Boldly, he started to stroll over my way. "Mornin' maam" he drawled out, and put one booted foot up on the rail. "You sure do have some beauties here" he said, nodding towards the coraled brood.

"Yes, I replied, "We take pride in the Double C having the best riding ponies in all of Texas...are you new? Curly mentioned he was looking for some new hands and I haven't seen you before."

"Yes maam. Rode in yesterday afternoon, showed the boys what I can do and Curly hired me on the spot. I thank you for the opportunity to work this land and these horses, maam." he added nodding towards the horses. "I've heard good things about your stock here, thought I'd see for myself. I'm a fair hand at breaking wild mustangs."

My mind whilred not only at his smooth tones, but at his last comment especially.

"We'll see what your made of, when you take a gander and a go at Soul...our latest catch from the box canyon. He's as wild as they come and never been saddled, let alone riden. Ornary as all get out too."

He laughed in a way that curled my toes in my boots and said, "That's just how I's like 'em best, maam. Ain't a wild horse I haven't tried to break yet, that hasn't been gentled by these hands." He lifted his hands, palms up and I couldn't help but wonder how they would be 'gentling me.'

I smiled at him wryly and said, "You're pretty sure of yourself, aren't you cowboy?" He gave a lopsided grin and drawled, "Sure as they come, maam...and please, call me Taylor."

"Okay, then, me Caty." I said with a smile, liking the feel of his name on my tongue, "Your first duty here on the Double C will be working Soul. I wanna see if you are as good as you claim."

"Maam, he said, "I mean...Caty...I don't claim nothin' that ain't true. I'll have that horse gentled for you before the week is out or I'll eat my hat."

I threw my head back and laughed..."Oh great..ANOTHER cocky-cowboy."

He tilted his eyes downward in a motion I could feel sweep across my flesh, "Nope, not cocky...just sure of my skills when it comes to wild horse that needs some gentling."

Over the next week, I didn't miss a single day of watching the cowboy break Soul-and good...he sure was. He didn't exagerate his skills one bit. Within'  a few hours time, he had gained some trust from Soul with his soft, calming tone and his hands that carefully touched Souls' hide in effort for him to learn his touch and get use to the smell of man. By the next morning, he was able to drape a saddle blanket over Soul's back and by day 3, he had saddled the mustang, letting him get use to this new weight upon him. That same afternoon, he took his first climb aboard Soul with one easy leap into the saddle. Soul bucked and turned, unaccustomed to having a rider upon him, yet slowly he resigned himself to the idea and Taylor soon had him trotting around the working coral with such an easy gait. As I stood there in wonder, I couldn't help but feel jealous of that horse.

By the end of that first week, Soul was totally gentled and I was totally smitten. Taylor stode over to where I stood at the rail on that day, dusty and wrinkled from the day's work, though never had I seen a pair of Levis that fit so well on a man. He doffed his Stetson and I said, smiling, "I'm very impressed, Taylor. Looks like you won't have to eat that hat afterall."

He hee-hawed a laugh and then his eyes turned serious, meeting mine straight-on and said, "Nope, sure won't. But I'd settle for a picnic with you, if you'd be so inclined, maam."

I shyly smiled and said, "I think that can be arranged. I know the perfect spot too, just over the ridge a-piece. I'll have cook pack up a basket and we'll meet out here at noon tomorrow."

"Yes maam!" he said as he slapped his Stetson back on his head and moseyed on back towards Soul to give her a well-deserved rubdown and combing.

The next day dawned beautiful as ever and the anticipation I felt was like a when I was a young girl on Christmas morning. I put on my best riding skirt and white shirtwaist, left my hair hanging down my back in a simple ponytail, grabbed my Stetson and yelled to Cook as I walked through the sprawling ranch house..."Is the basket ready, Cook?" Cook, who was like an old motherly hen to me, laughed a liltle laugh and said, "Yes, Caty and I do declare, I haven't seen this much spunk in your step in a too-long time, dear. Wouldn't have nuthin' to do with a certain new hand, now would it?"

I gave her a peck on the cheek, took the basket form her hand and as I turned to head out, said..."It just might, Cook." I heard her laugh and then say to my back..."Its about time you found yerself a man, missy!"

I met Taylor outside the coral, where he had both my Breeze and the newly tamed Soul, saddled and ready. Taking the basket from my hands, he rigged it to his saddle next to an extra saddle blanket rolled there, turned to me, swiping his hat off his head and exclaimed, "Hello, are looking right purty today. Ready to go?" I nodded and added a 'Thank you".

As I moved to mount up on my horse, in one swift motion, I felt his hands upon my waist as he deftly placed me on my saddle. My sides tingled from his touch and I felt a blush creep its way up my neck. A second later, he swung his frame onto Soul in a poetic movement of the grace and glide of one who was born to the saddle.

In no time, our feisty horses took us to the area I had pre-chosen, over the ridge and down a-ways, where a stream meandered about the cottonwoods. It had always been my favorite spot on the ranch and where I'd spent many hours of my 24 years sitting quietly and reading or just thinking. I'd never borught anyone else to 'my spot' before, but this felt so right to be here with 'him'.

He hopped off Soul and tied him to a nearby cottonwood, grabbed the basket and blanket, set them down next to my horse and then walked over and lifted me off my horse. As I slid down the length of him, our bodies touched and we both seemed to feel the charge between us, for he too, seemed at a loss for words. Taking up the blanket and the basket, we led Breeze to the same cottonwood where Soul was tied and Taylor tied her next to him saying, "I think they've grown fond of each other...and I think I know the feeling."

He took my hand then and we walked towards the stream as I pointed to the green and flat area right beside the stream, where I usually sat. He took the blanket from under his arm and spread it down on the ground, kneeled down and offered his hand to me to sit and join him there, which I did in no haste a'tall.

We talked as we enjoyed our picnic lunch of friend chicken, buttermilk biscuits, turnip greens, mason jars of cool sweetened suntea, canned peaches and apple crisp. "Cook outdid herself," I said and to which Taylor answered, leaning back on one elbow, "Yup, she did and her cooking is a sure sight better than Curly's too!"

We laughed and then the moment seems to turn towards serentiy as he took my arm and pulled me slowly down beside him. He removed his hat and then took off mine, placing them alongside us. His hand returned to my head and played with my long ponytail saying, "I'd love to see it down...may I?" as his hand stilled at the tie holding back my hair.

I nodded, never taking my eyes off his face as he slowly pulled my hair free and loosened it with his hand, "Mmmm...yup, he drawled, 'Just like I knew it would" Then his hand stilled on the back of my neck as he both eased up towards me and pulled me towards him. Our lips met shyly at first and then with an urgency as our mouths danced together.

His skilled hands, moved up and down my back as I clung to his broad shoulders. Impatiently, we explored each other with hands and mouth growing bolder with each passing minute. I felt the buttons on my shirtwaist being set free and his hand moved inside and under my chemise, against my tempered skin. In the same moment, I undid the buttons of his shirt and he shruged out of it, our lips never parting, his hands never stilling.

I ran my hands over his bare back, his arms, his chest, all the while feeling the sinewy muscle and tautness of his skin.

He moaned and layed me back upon the blanket, pulling the rest of my shirtwaist out of my skirt, spreading it open and toyed with the top ribbons on my chemise until they too, gave way and my skin felt the full wartmth of both the sun, his gaze and then his sultry mouth.

I writhed underneath him and tugged at the top his Levis, my fingertips venturing just below the waistline...and it was his undoing.

Right there, beneath the cottonwoods, with the sound of the stream meandering by, the smell of the sagebrush mixed with his rugged scent, he took me, gently, tenderly, lovingly, and later again with unrestrained passion, to a place I'd never been before and never wanted to leave. I knew from the moment I saw him outside the bunkhouse and then watched him gentle the wild Soul, that someday, he would be mine.

And for many years later, as we settled into our life, joined together by our spoken vows only a week after that fateful picnic, we still took ourselves down to 'our spot' every so often, where he would 'gentle me' all over again.

View cathycavalcante's Full Portfolio