The Ride to Cherokee

by benignjamin

 The Ride to Cherokee
IT ’S only we, Grimalkin, both fond and fancy free,
So do your best, my beauty, for a home for you and me;
For you the oats and leisure, for me the pipe and book,
With sometimes, just at sunset, the long gray eastward look.
For once there was another: ah, Kathrine! who shall say         
What wilful fancy seized you that sunny summer day;
You turned and nodded, smiling as you went gayly by,
And the man who strolled beside you had a braver front than I;
It meant a day’s undoing, a night’s black watch for me,
And this mad ride, Grimalkin, to-day for Cherokee.         
The great crowd forges forward, like fire in fury blown,
Each urging to the utmost, and God help him that ’s down,
Shoulder to shoulder rising like shapes in horror cast,
And my good mare aflashing a star along the blast;
So—so—my brave Grimalkin, it ’shome for you and me         
If we ride the distance safely to the line in Cherokee:
We ’ll pass our lives together,—you ’ll have a stall with me,
And a blanket—if we win it—in the home in Cherokee.
There ’s one that ’s riding with us, with many a good steed passed,
Look well, little Grimalkin, or you ’re left, too, at the last;         
He ’s singing as he ’s riding with his brave and gallant air,
With the fierce light falling hotly on his face and yellow hair.
A rush—a shout; he ’s falling; God help the man that ’s down
As the wild steeds thunder onward, on the hard earth baked and brown.
On, on; and look, Grimalkin! we’re safe, ’t is victory!         
We ’ll stake the claim and hold the home, here in the Cherokee.
And he that fell! a breath space I saw his glazing eyes
As he lay staring upward into the dust-filled skies:
Eyes one star-flash of memory told me I ’d met before,
Eyes that a woman’s loving would brighten nevermore.         
And fancy flung me backward, from that madding rush and whirl,
To an old Long Island garden and a violet-laden girl;
Ah well, he stole my treasure, my sweetheart’s heart, from me,—
God rest him! I ’m the victor, to-day in Cherokee!

–Amelia Walstien Carpenter