The sound of train cars coupling rumbled through the frozen air
And struck a nerve in some primeval core.
Our horses started dancin', somethin' made their nostrils flare.
A premonition washed upon their shore.
We push'em toward the clearing as their apprehension grew.
They snorted and began to steer like boats,
Prancing sideways, rollers blowing, hoofbeats pounding a tattoo,
Then a bellow! Our hearts jumped in our throats.
"They're at it," said young Cody as the bulls came into view.
His voice squeaked. Bulls can have that effect.
He glanced around half lookin' for a demolition crew
The way the lower meadow had been wrecked.
"Take it easy, lad," I told him, "They'll be lookin' for a fight.
I've seen'em lift a horse clean off the ground.
Stick a horn right through their belly . . . It'll make your hair turn white,
A skewered horse can make a hellish sound."
Then two bulls as big as boulders banged together head to head.
It sounded like the closing of a vault.
Tectonic plates colliding, their reverberation spread
Like tremors from the San Andreas fault.
They pushed with heads like anvils, bone as thick as two by fours
And circled, each one looking for a chance.
The ground beneath them pulverized, like waltzing dinosaurs,
Triceratops reborn for one last dance.
It dang sure wasn't pretty, see, one had a broken nose.
The blood was splattered up and down their sides.
It smelled like when you gut a buck and get it on your clothes,
A steaming green and red smeared on their hides.
The young bull slid a horn beneath the other's naked flank
And hooked him like an ax man felling trees.
The old one groaned and faltered, the young one turned the crank
And drove the aged warrior to his knees.
"Looks like curtains for the geezer," Cody said with no regard
For differences existing in our age.
"It's the way of things," he told me. "The passin' of the guard.
The old must step aside and clear the stage."
One last lunge to finish off the ruler now dethroned.
It smashed into the beefy upturned hip.
But the peckin' order's fickle, no one savvy's the unknown . . .
The grass was slick, the young bull made a slip
And went down, his shoulder crunching. For a moment he lay still.
The old bull rose, no longer in defeat.
His shadow fell across his foe but never moved to kill.
The young bull stumbled quickly to his feet.
Horn to horn they eyed each other. Then the old bull turned away.
Cody spoke, "I knew he'd finally get him."
"You underestimate," I said, "The depth of nature's sway.
If you ask me, I'd say the old bull let him."
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