We bumped along the dirt road
from Rocha ours alone
north toward the hills we could not see,
in the endless sun of a late December day
We looked for eucalyptus,
horneros perched on mud,
or a Gaucho draped in pants,
leather boots pressing his mount,
herding cattle against the horizon in our minds.
From nowhere a boy appeared on a horse,
brown as dust with bare legs
deep in the fleece of a sheep.
He stood silent and looked at us
while we held our breath:
behind him a field of cattle, trees,
and wide sky.
His eyes met yours
and Spanish flew to him
like stars forming a constellation;
he raised his hand in
You tried to understand
the almond eyes
holding back the sun;
the earthy nap of his skin;
his comfort in the parched day;
the calm of his horse
steadied by a thin arm
an arm that knew
it was time again to ride.
Commanding with back, arms,
and naked feet like an old Gaucho,
he eclipsed your gaze.
You looked as long as you could,
wanting to follow,
watching him gallop in the gold grass
toward the smell of eucalyptus and
the dusty road where
day would end when it was ready
and horneros could return to
mud nests, safe
in the starry silence
of the Uruguayan night.
Elizabeth Esris was published in the Bucks County Writer in Fall, 2002. Most recently she
completed the libretto for an opera, “Elegy For A Prince”, written in collaboration with
composer Sergio Cervetti, who translated “Gaucho”. (The website for the opera is
She has taught English in the Central Bucks School District for thirteen years.
ELIZABETH ESRIS IN THIS EDITION:
POETRY: Gaucho (Español)