Guest Spotlight: Palo Duro Canyon From the West Rim

A recent guest at Doves Rest, Fred Shannon a retired judge and historian on the Plains Indians and the Palo Duro Canyon wrote out his thoughts in a poem during his stay at ChairLift Cabin. Thank you, Fred.

Palo Duro Canyon From the West Rim

Tracks in the snow Last night’s visitors Fox, rabbit, coyote Afternoon visitors Bobwhites, whitetail buck, And coyote

Sunset on Fortress Cliff Across the Canyon Yellow, gold and red Dappled with shine of snow Powerful, magnificent With full moon rising

Warm fire Wine and spirits Sustenance at table Stories and laughter Good cheer Wind singing outside

Morning cloud Reflecting daylight Down behind The eastern horizon Prelude to the fiery Explosion of sunrise

Burst of light Over the far edge Making golden The purple sky Showing again The wonders around us

Our horseless carriage Rolling through history Roadside markers For battles In the war of conquest And for cowboy dugouts

Between ridges and cliff sides Of ochre, umber and red Sliced through With white gypsum And gray Spanish Skirts Changing color as the world turned

Afoot down the canyon Red monochrome pictographs Paleo rock shelters Burned rock middens Of people living here Long before the horse

Tepee rings of Comanche & Kiowa In their winter haven Spread in the fine grass Along and either side Of the Prairie Dog Fork

From Cathedral Rock One might see Warriors, wives and children Their colorful homes and horses Making ready for winter On their last evening of peace

For their shaman had promised They would not be found In the great canyon Under the icy blasts of winter And the horizon Of their pursuers

Next morning, Perhaps from Cathedral Rock Red Warbonnet, of the Kiowa’s, In the dim light of pre-dawn Fired the rifle shot warning of The horror sneaking down the canyon walls

He dropped dead By the shot of A McKenzie marksman Before he could witness The destruction of his way of life By firestorm

McKenzie’s skilled troopers Stampeded the horses Leaving warriors afoot Who sought to make The canyon walls Their barricade

Instead they only could watch With sadness and despair, As their homes Their winter stores And other necessaries Were put to the torch

As their wives and children And their horses Were made captive Their only hope was to Be up the canyon walls And out on the plains

But within months Their deprivation In the cold winter Caused them to surrender Back on the reservation Even the legendary Quanah

To walk through This beautiful place And ponder on the ending Of the free way of life of
The Comanche’s Made me wonder Whether we have served Mother earth as well By dividing the free land With barbed wire Substituting cattle For the buffalo

And destroying the ability Of her native prairies To support the many more people, Structures and contraptions Without pumping her water From deep within her soul

Being there created a deep longing To see and not just imagine The flora and fauna, woods and waters Of this canyon As the Comanche found them In 1873

And gave cause for lament That what is left of open space And clear running water May be lost forever for future generations As it was for the Comanche’s And for the same reason

The ever-increasing number of people Competing for the Productive and regenerative
Capacities of our earth – Like the settlers And the Comanche’s

Still, out on the west rim We are inspired By magnificent sunrises Glorious sunsets And views of parts of the earth Yet unspoiled by man’s need to live

Fred Shannon Doves Rest – January 14, 2017