Don’t Fence Me In

By Jeanie Greensfelder

I wrote this poem as a tribute to the 3 Mules after I saw them at the corner of Monterrey and California in San Luis Obispo in 2013. Mule and his journey stayed in my mind and the poem arrived.

Don’t Fence Me In

A man leads two mules on the sidewalk
past a café and an art gallery.
Cars stop. People stare.

I learned about Mule Man
when he came through town two years ago.

He moved into my mind, his way of living-
traveling the West twenty miles a day,
eating oats, rice, and canned green beans.

Some yards have invisible fences
and dogs wear collars that shock them
if they cross the property line.
People have fences too. My collar buzzes
when I stray too far. Some of us have
small yards and some have grand estates.
The Mule Man has the whole West.

I’m grateful he moved into my mind,
letting me settle by a creek, tend the mules,
fix a small fire, warm rice and beans,
and hold solitude. When solitude shifts
to loneliness, I talk with my mules,
with the wind that allows trees to speak,
with the sunset, darkness, moonlight,
and with the rock I sit on. And I thank
the mule man who brought me here.

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