Looking Back

by Teresa Jordan

read poem
Looking Back

The secret place is gone.
Picked up like a tenant
in the middle of the night
after a bad run of luck
it trudges down the dark lone road
with the meadow
and the barn
and a long line of cows,
tails bedraggling behind them.
I loved

that secret place
down by the riverbed
hidden by a bank. I whittled
dolls from willows there, made whistles
out of broad bladed grass, told my big bay
Buddy how I’d never leave.
I lied

though not from will.
Let me be salt
sculpted by cow
tongues until I am lace
and then I am gone.

I want to belong to the ground
again. It is the barn

that breaks my heart
trudging soddenly along, bedsteads
and broken harnesses rocking
softly in the loft, lost
beneath great drifts of
guano. A spavined horse-
collar mirror hangs
cockeyed on the ladder
and that other me looks back
amazed. In the darkness
only one of us is

© Teresa Jordan

TERESA JORDAN was raised in the fourth generation on a cattle ranch in the Iron Mountain country of southeast Wyoming. She has written or edited seven books about rural western life, culture and the environment, including the memoir Riding the White Horse Home, and has received the Western Heritage Award from the Cowboy Hall of Fame for scriptwriting and a literary fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. After twenty years as an author, Jordan turned to visual art, and her work has been exhibited throughout the West. She lives in Virgin, Utah, with her husband, Hal Cannon.

Portrait Sponsor

Western Folklife Center



National Endowment for the Arts
Nevada Arts Council
NV Energy Foundation