Category Archives: Juliana Lightle

April 18 – Star

by Juliana Lightle

The phone rings.

“Star’s dead. There’s blood everywhere.

He’s hanging from the gate by one hoof.

Blood is all over Rosie’s face.

It’s dreadful.”

A tear choked voice.

“You can’t bring D’mitri home.”

D’mitri’s nine.  Star belongs to him.

Shock, tears, disbelief.

Last night Star ran, bucked, reared,

chased around, playing.

How?

The pen’s all pipe, no sharp edges,

nothing harmful, consistently inspected.

lightle

D’mitri goes home with me.  He says,

“Nana, I have to see him;

I have to know what happened.”

Slowly, in dread, we walk behind the barn.

Star’s hanging by one hoof in the three inch

space between the gate and fence,

ankle broken.

The blood covered fence, gate, and ground

stare at me.

It’s hot, his body’s stiff.

He must be moved.

Coyotes will come in the night,

drawn by the smell of blood, of death.

The neighbor brings his big red tractor;

a wench pulls Star’s young body free,

gently lays him on the cold, grey,

cement barn floor.

His shining copper coat no longer shines.

D’mitri and I remember bottle feeding him

after Miracle died, teaching him to lead.

We stare at Star’s body in disbelief.

Kindly, the neighbor says,

“He died quick, femoral artery cut by bone,

bled out.”

For hours, Rosie and Cool stand at the spot

where Star died.

They do not even leave to eat alfalfa.

It takes me hours to wash away the blood.

It takes D’mitri ten months to go back to the barn,

to ride Rosie again.

LIGHTLE2

Juliana Lightle writes, raises horses, teaches high school, and wanders the wild on the edge of a canyon in the Panhandle of Texas.  She is also a Board Member of the Story Circle Network.  This poem is from her poetry memoir, ON THE RIM OF WONDER, available on her website or from Amazon.

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July 28 – On the Road to Awash National Park, Ethiopia

by Juliana Lightle

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We left Adama early because the drive was long. The highway was good, paved, two lane, but very busy with truck traffic going to and from Djbouti. It made me think of Interstate 40 at home. Like all highways in Ethiopia, goats, cattle, horse-drawn buggies, people, and sometimes camels crisscrossed and walked down the road. Trucks and cars constantly dodged here and there. If you accidentally kill someone on the road, you receive an automatic prison sentence.

At first, the landscape remained green, not as green as in the North, but still green. Fields cultivated for teff lined both sides of the road. Eventually, the landscape transformed to desert acacia and thorny shrubs. Black lava fields and extinct volcanoes appeared. We were in the Great Rift Valley. There it was to my left: the rift from which the valley gets its name. Slowly over years, the rift widens, getting larger and larger. Later, we saw a dormant volcano; it last erupted three hundred years ago.

Now we were in the land of the Afar, a semi nomadic people who herd cattle, camels, and goats. Boys drove herds along the roadside, huge herds of animals. Herd size determines wealth.

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Suddenly, a loud noise indicated a blown tire. Carlo pulled over. Carlo and Dino, father and son, worked at changing the tire. First, a truck driver, his truck broken down the road, came along to help. He refused money, saying in Amharic, that people should help each other. Second, an Afar boy came walking toward us, stopped, watched, then walked off. Then, his back to me, I noticed the eight inch dagger in the back of his pants.

I saw the Afar man coming long before he reached us. He stopped to look, said nothing, walked around the SUV to me. He was tall and dark with an assault rifle slung over his left shoulder. With my hands, I indicated what had happened, trying through gestures to communicate with him.

Suddenly, Dino said, “Get in the car!” I kept trying to talk to the man. Dino repeated, “Juliana, get in the car!” I did, not understanding why. The man walked off down the road.

Later, Dino commented, “Didn’t you see how close he was standing to you?” I had not because I possess no personal space. I had felt no fear.

Note: The Afar consider themselves the most ancient Ethiopians, having lived the same way in the same place for thousands of years. Afar men are considered fearsome, protecting their domain historically with daggers and attacks on strange men. As recently as the 20th century, they cut off testicles of male intruders. Now they carry assault rifles.

Raised on a family farm, Juliana now teaches high school, blogs, sings, raises horses, and wanders the wild on the edge of a canyon in the Panhandle of Texas. Her collection of poetry, On the Rim of Wonder” was published in April. She returned from a vacation in Ethiopia two days ago.

July 17 – Star

by Juliana Lightle

horse

The phone rings.

“Star’s dead. There’s blood everywhere.  He’s hanging from the gate. Blood is all over Rosie’s face. It’s dreadful.”

A tear choked voice. “You can’t bring D’mitri home.”

D’mitri’s nine. Star belongs to him.  Shock, tears, disbelief. Last night he ran, bucked, reared, chased around, playing. How? The pen’s all pipe, no sharp edges,  nothing harmful, consistently inspected.

D’mitri goes home with me.

He says, “Nana, I have to see him; I have to know what happened.”

Slowly, in dread, we walk behind the barn.  Star’s hanging by one hoof in the three inch space between the gate and fence, ankle broken. The blood covered fence, gate, and ground stare at me.  It’s hot, his body’s stiff.  He must be moved.
The coyotes will come in the night, drawn by the smell of blood, of death.

The neighbor brings his big , red tractor; a wench pulls Star’s young body free,
and gently lays him on the cold, grey, barn floor. His shining copper coat no longer shines. D’mitri and I remember bottle feeding him after Miracle died, teaching him to lead. We stare at Star’s body in disbelief.

Kindly, the neighbor says, “He died quick, femoral artery cut by bone, bled out.”

For hours, Rosie and Cool stand at the spot where Star died. They do not even leave to eat alfalfa. It takes me hours to wash away the blood. It took D’mitri ten months to go back to the barn, to ride Rosie again.

Juliana lives on the edge of a canyon in the Panhandle of Texas, teaches high school, raises horses, sings, entertains friends, xeroscape gardens, and wanders the wild. She is currently working on a book of poetry and essays she plans to get published before the year’s end.

July 27 – Summer

by Juliana Lightle

Summer: hot, occasionally humid, lazy. Last night I stayed up until 11, crawled into bed, and completed my usual ritual reading. My bedtime reading varies. Last night it was “Earth Justice”. This ritual includes my grandson when he stays with me. We lie there, side by side, encircled in quiet, closeness, and peace, reading.

I awaken late for me, seven, walk to the kitchen, plug in the coffee pot, listen to the beans grinding, amble back to bed, and meditate while the coffee perks. The semi-arid landscape where I live creates cool, refreshing mornings. I open up the doors, pour myself a cup of coffee, and walk outside in my nightgown, one of the advantages of country living. Coffee cup in hand, I turn on the spigot, water rushing into the two and one half-gallon, green bucket. I water the potted geraniums by the rock retaining wall, the thyme in the tall, brown, Mexican urn, the succulents in the two ancient pots reclaimed from someones abandoned building. Some animal, a deer, a bunny, eats a bite or two each night even though they reside less than six feet from my house.

My grandson sleeps late and soundly. I walk back into the house, check on him and surround his eight year old cafe-con-leche body with pillows and stuffed animals so he won’t fall out of bed. I refill my coffee cup and return to the morning watering ritual. It has not rained in nearly a month. My xeroscape flower and herb garden needs little water, but it does need some. While watering, I periodically check on my grandson, readjusting the pillows and stuffed animals. I do not want him to fall out of bed and hit his head on the grey cement floor.

A girlie girl, I like make-up and polished toes and nails. Make-up application follows the watering ritual. When my face looks like the me I prefer to see in the mirror, I walk to the barn and feed the horses, a summer treat, morning feedings. On winter workdays, they have to get by on once a day.

We eat breakfast, my grandson and I, hungry for a new day. He likes two eggs over easy. I eat yogurt or cereal. Our summer days are lazy days, filled with board games, reading, kids’ TV. We eat when we are hungry; we rarely notice the time.

Late in the evening cool, we head to the barn, feed, clean the runs, and scatter the manure over the crunchy, dry grass, waiting for the rains that will eventually return. Sometimes we also take a property walk as my grandson calls them, hiking the perimeter of my canyon country landscape, checking the fence, watching for wildlife, admiring the abundant wild flowers. When he was little, I had to help him cross the canyon. Now he runs ahead, all energy and life.

I love summer.

Juliana Lightle writes, raises horses, xeroscapes, sings, teaches and wanders the wild on a canyon rim in the Panhandle of Texas.

February 8 – One Dazzling Day

by Juliana Lightle

When people ask me who I am, I tell this true tale of one dazzling day:

The rancher next door called one Saturday morning begging for help. Three truckloads of yearling cattle had arrived; several of his cowboys had committed a no-show.

I pulled on jeans and boots, brushed my hair, and headed for the pens and chutes. I held their legs while they were “cut”, shot them full of meds, and branded. In four hours we worked over 300 head.

Lunchtime arrived. In one hour my volunteer job at the state park gift shop began.

No time for a bath; I smelled of smoke, blood, and poop. In one-half hour I applied make-up, mascara, blush, sprayed perfume all over me, changed clothes, and headed for work.

At five, I closed shop, went to the restroom, changed into the third outfit of the day and headed for a health care volunteer gala.

Two hours later I attended the opera, silently singing along.

Woohoo!!

Juliana Lightle writes on the canyon rim. Her new blog, Writing on the Rim, will appear in the next week. She raises horses, teaches high school, sings with a master chorale, and wanders.