Orphaned, shunted from one home
to another, on his own at twelve,
shoveling cow dung in the stockyards.
Warmed by their green breath, he says
he saw gentleness in their doomed eyes.
All winter he wears sweaters that keep him
covered. A shock in spring,
his short-sleeved shirts unbuttoned
reveal inked designs up both arms,
around his neck, even on his chest.
Like a rancher’s brand,
his mark of belonging.