Brown mulch gathers at the bottom of Fossil Creek
As it ribbons across the eleventh fairway
Where cottonwood leaves settle into the bottom
Of the burn like abandoned swing thoughts.
I am walking the course backwards
Hitting lost balls with a mashie-niblick
Watching our rescued golden retriever
Scurry back and forth from the marsh to fairway.
Golfers in groups of twos and threes,
Windbreakers wrapped to their waist
Pull trolleys with nine to fifteen clubs.
Golf in November is not about scoring.
No one offers advice.
No one is looking to shoot a career round.
The backlit sky is soft on the horizon
Like the pause in my father’s backswing.
Ben brings me a like new Titleist
He finds in the plum bushes
And then watches as I swing for the click
That comes from a well-hit shot.
The ball sails over the railroad trestle
into a wilderness without bunkers,
Or manicured bluegrass,
Out among coyote scat and bull snakes.
Far out on the seventeenth hole
A singleton in woolen cap
Is swinging a midiron back and forth
Walking his way home in rhythm.
As twilight brushes his silhouette
I think of St. Andrews, Carnouste and Royal Dornoch,
The unyielding desperation of the Highlands
Where a herder with a staff and a small flock
Lofts stones toward a place in the dark.