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