Crowds of people who all seemed to know him,
mingled and exchanged strong handshakes with
each other as they entered the fairground gates.
Riders strutted in fancy hats, ties and dress suits,
a mixture of old England and early plantation times.
They weaved through a lot filled with horse trailers,
Big Chevy Crew Cabs, and waxed and shiny Dualies.
Farmers, merchants, horse lovers, and their families
rushed to the bleachers at the edge of the grass field.
We headed to the concession sheds to find dinner.
Great northern and navy beans in their own sauce,
a thick white gravy from slow cooking all day long,
heaped in deep round styrofoam bowls, a huge slab
of Vidalia onion on top, a block of cornbread for a lid.
“Dry and gritty, it’ll scratch the throat as it goes down”.
He pointed out Master and we cheered as Mike rode
the shiny black stallion with its chain ankle bracelets.
Head up, throwing legs high, showing off, “the big lick”.
In those stands that night I discovered Southern culture,
Tennessee Walking Horses and my father, the horseman.