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'The Sleigh and the Buffalo Robe'

Jeanne, Creative Commons

by Bonnie Buckley Maldonado


The big sleigh pulled easy
by the draft horses,
Teddy and Baldy,
sailed over snow banks,
flashing diamonds
marking their way.

Sleigh bells rang out
our excitement,
parents up front,
children in the box behind.

My hand pats the fur robe,
traces its red felt points
sharp as arrowheads,
Grandpa's buffalo robe
to keep us warm.

Long purple shadows
chase the sleigh
up the steep grade
and out of the coulee

The last of winter's sun
waits to greet us
at Kellehers' place
for my first night
away from home.

I don't want
to leave the fur
and the bells
but kind Ethel
lifts me gently down.

Inside, she asks
if we children
prefer our coffee
with cream?

The grownup coffee
in a big white cup
distracts me from the sleigh
and the buffalo robe.

Daddy tells me
that when I wake up
the sleigh will take us home,
and I know it will
because he said so.

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Bonnie Buckley Maldonado's life has been one long poem recorded on scraps of paper until her retirement at age sixty-nine when she finally had time to create manuscripts. She was inducted into the New Mexico Women's Hall of Fame for extensive work in the area of community service and was selected as the Inaugural Poet Laureate of Silver City/Grant County New Mexico. Bonnie is the only Southwestern poet to be included in the collection which celebrates both the past and future of  The Land of Enchantment.

"The Sleigh and the Buffalo Robe" was published in her 2006 collection From the Marias River to the North Pole.

Chérie Newman is a former arts and humanities producer and on-air host for Montana Public Radio, and a freelance writer. She founded and previously hosted a weekly literary program, The Write Question, which continues to air on several public radio stations; it is also available online at and
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