Sunday, August 1, 2010



He watches my entry

Down the tilt of pasture

Clumps of mud sinking rubber boots,

Chain saw load and fuel jugs,

Holds an eye on me

In his one position.

When I set to work he sets to work,

Drops off the long spring of telephone wire.

Through the day picks at brush piles, goes

Back onto the wire, withstands the heat, watches.

It is only when the saw is shut down I hear what

He says, the scale of whistles both sharp

And gentle to the ear, no one pitch alike, perhaps

The voice of many birds together, in this new one who

Peers down as I leave and now stars to sing.


Up on the hill where the sun warms

Under thick maples he used to

Pull a sled of sap buckets past,

I’d see him right there as I walked the road

Pastured in a circle of stamped snow,

Content with hay and pail of oats —

Soft brown except where the hooves

Bushed long white hairs.

Never seemed to move from that place

Though his eyes would see me from a distance,

Wait and turn his head as I went by —

We would look at one another, and I

Remember it very clear today as I pass

And he’s nowhere around —

Sold for $350 I found out later.

The first time in seven years

I haven’t nodded to him my hello,

And this walk isn’t the same.


Take two squared stones and

Drop them almost side by side

Lift the thinner slab of rock and

Bust your guts setting it on top

Now you got reason to sit down

from Where Rivers Meet, Bob Arnold
photo © bob arnold