They say men won the west, they may have but women kept the heart beat alive!
Kokum teaches us that the man is the head but no head lives long without a heart.
A lady of the west she was! Unknown to most, but to us she was magical!
She Who Rides Alone was always brave. Her courage honoured her family.
Side saddle breaking colts! Can you imagine it son? Never saw her astride.
Her wagons always held such good food for her people. A spirit of sharing.
Bucked the pins outta her hair they say, but she didn’t lose her seat! No sir.
She was tall and straight, like a young pine. Her smile like later winter sun.
Jumped fences on that mule! Drove a painted team. Drove field draft too.
Our People kept her ways clear. The Kainai thought us unwise, cowardly.
No drover could meet her courage hauling her wagon loads home.
The Kainai stopped her one day, wanted to take her food. Her horses.
Where’s Nell? Gone to town. Alone? Nah she has the horses with her.
They tell of her grey eyes, like first frost of fall, and then the fire spoke.
It was a befuddlement to them all why she never had no trouble. Ha!
Her skirts they thought hid treasure to take. A woman weak. No warrior.
Like Annie Oakely! Calamity Jane! True grit she showed them injuns.
She did not stop or slow her wagon. Her horses walked like the great ice.
Where she got that gun, Albert he never said to me. He just smiled so sly.
Her voice was soft but strong. A wide willow branch. One word. NO.
They tell it, them who heard it later, that she kept on driving through ’em.
And in her hand the fire spoke, the men’s gun alive in a woman’s hand.
They never seen something like that. That gal Nell held her own for sure.
One shot. One word. She went on. No man fell. No horse fell. Their spirits fell.
We heard the shot, who didn’t? By the time we came a running it was long done.
Their insides became weak like tea water. They never came back here again.
She didn’t say much. Just that she runned ’em off with Jesus and Samuel Colt.
Brian has us playing with story telling and tall tales. This one is the same story told by two tellers to two audiences. One a cowboy relating the tale around the chuck fire and the other by an Elder of the Cree nation to their young people. The awe of a young white man met by the respect of a Cree elder. The woman, and the story, are mostly true. Embellished a bit from stories told to me about the mother of my Great Grandmother who came to Canada in a covered wagon and farmed, broke horses and tended her family with grace, courage and love. She was a tall Scots woman, grey eyed and likely to outward appearances quite stern. But she rode horses with abandon, and faced life head on with courage so I suspect there was a spirit there that had a wry sense of humor as well. The Cree and Kainai (Blackfoot) fought often along their borderlands, with their last great battle being a rout on the home turf of the Blackfood by the raiding Cree. The Canadian West has some rich history, no?
Check out the rest of the poets at dVerse!