The Romance of the Range

by Elizabeth Ebert

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The Romance of the Range

All the glamour of the cowboy,
And the romance of the range
That they show us in the movies,
I consider mighty strange.
Their nights are always balmy,
And their skies are full of stars,
And from somewhere in the background
Come the strumming of guitars.
Her hair is long and curly,
And there’s ruffles on her skirt,
And her boots are new and shiny
Without a speck of dirt.
His jaw is shaved. His clothes are clean –
(I presume so is his mind.)
And his horse is always trailing
Just about two steps behind
He gently takes her trembling hands
In his own so big and strong,
And at the proper moment,
He bursts into a song.

Somehow while heading for our ranch,
We must have lost the trail,
For the glamour and the romance here,
By comparison, are pale.
We’re out here in the cold and dark,
No moon or stars for light,
And we’re bringing in a heifer
That is due to calve tonight.
My boots are pretty filthy,
And I just stepped in some more,
And my coveralls weren’t purchased
At a Niemann-Marcus store.

And he’s no movie cowboy.
He’s looking pretty rough
With three days growth of whiskers,
And a lip packed full of snuff.
We’re tired and cross and dirty,
And were chilled down to the bone.
There’s no music in his cussing—
Just a steady monotone.
And ‘though we’re close together
And although our hands may touch
While we’re sewing up that prolapse –
The magic won’t be much!

So here’s to cowboy glamour!
And here’s to range romance!
We’d ride off in the sunset, too
—But we never get the chance!

© Elizabeth Ebert

ELIZABETH EBERT, a South Dakota native, admitted that she was a closet poet until 1989, writing from her home place near Thunder Hawk. She was a widely admired writer and performer, and fellow poet Yvonne Hollenbeck called Ebert the “grand dame of cowboy poetry.” Ebert’s work focused on the challenges, pride, courage and tragedies that come with living on the land. Among her poetic legacies are two books, Prairie Wife and Crazy Quilt, and a CD, Live from Thunder Hawk. Ebert died in 2018.