Category Archives: Sheila Cowing

#101 The Holdout by Sheila Cowing

When old Pauline Whitesinger wakes before dawn,
steps outside her hogan into the desert,
makes a white corn pollen offering
and prays to the rising sun, wind blows hard
this winter of no snow. Younger, she herded
her sheep in a long blue velveteen skirt,
the sun engraved her face. This yellow grass
belongs now by decree to the Hopi, who, eager
to mine coal deposits, are forcing Navajos out,
a Second Long Walk. They call her a resistor;
her well is capped, blades removed from the wind mill.
Men with bulldozers tried to fence land where her sheep
graze, each night she undid their work. She said
nothing, whittled a long sharp stick the afternoon
a ranger demanded her agreement.

Sheila Cowing earned her MFA after raising three daughters. Six years the editor of a national children’s literary magazine, she’s also been a landscaper and a book salesperson. She’s published two collections of poetry, Stronger in the Broken Places and Jackrabbit Highways. She’s also written essays and nonfiction for children.

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#82 Wind by Sheila Cowing

Come with me on this worn track
through the old Simpson ranch,
the wind a watery blast on my face
so harsh I squeeze my left eye
tight shut, a Clementi sonatina
swept right out of my humming
when I squat to pull a cholla spine
from the dog’s paw. Every six feet
or so, another brown dusty worm,
I thinking tonight they’ll freeze.
An old Hispanic shepherd
south of here wrapped each sheep in a shirt
after the March shearing; oh they must have been
a sight, hundreds of them in their khaki suits
skittering into yellowed meadow on little black hooves!
But the old man passed; his son
thought that silly; one March,
a storm took near a third the flock.
The car’s near, the junipers blow
bronze with pollen, no way
any of us can escape this wind.


Sheila Cowing lives with her coon hound Louise in the shadows of two mountain ranges.  She has published award-winning children’s nonfiction and two collections of poetry, Stronger in the Broken Places and Jackrabbit Highways.