Yellowstone sleepwalker

Yellowstone River
Pictured is the Yellowstone River in Montana. (Julie Geiss photo)

My job was grazing horses when we packed to Yellowstone.
I was ten years old but brave enough to graze them all alone.

And when they had their fill of grass I’d tie ‘em for the night.
Then I’d B-line to where the steaks and spuds were more than just a bite.

The fishermen were chowing down on honey buttered scones
and gnawing on what’s left of steak clean down to only bones.

When we finished washing dishes it was almost time for bed.
By far the best time of the evening for this sleepy head.

But first we stood around the fire and listened to the Guide.
He talked about tomorrow, how we’d have an easy ride.

He told us all, “Hit the sack. If needed, count some sheep.
‘Cuz the fish are out there waiting. So try to get some sleep.”

He didn’t have to tell me twice. I skinnied off my drawers.
Then climbed into my sleeping bag out underneath the stars.

In less than half a minute dreamland stole the night from me.
I dreamed of a cricket chorus. A hoot owl singing in his tree.

I dreamed about the river. Cold air rising from its bank.
And felt the splash of water from the horses while they drank.

But the dream was all too real. I woke to water ankle deep.
And wondered just how long I’d slept. I’d been walking in my sleep.

I was out there in my skivvies and shaking from the cold.
I tried to find our camp by then in desperation mode.

I’m sure I walked for hours. Couldn’t find my father’s camp.
My legs were soaked from all the tall grass being extra damp.

I swear the night was darker than the inside of a cat.
So I backed up to a Doug Fir, folded arms and there I sat.

I couldn’t warm my fingers and my toes were freezing cold.
They say to hug a tree when lost. Guess I don’t do what I’m told.

My luck was finally changing. I stumbled to a new campsite.
And there I found the men who got me through the scary night.

I recounted walking in my sleep, embarrassed of my plight.
One man said, ” We’ll take you back. You’ll get some sleep tonight.

Our camp was 50 yards away. My bag lay in a heap.
I thanked the men. They said goodbye. Then to the deepest sleep.

Mid morning woke me. Thought I’d go and check on my good friends.
But they’d set the saddle early. Never saw those men again.

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