Only 10 yards
Away, and I
Didn’t see her
Fly there, and
I won’t see
Her fly off —
Down into the
Staring me down
Shirt in the Woods
It was a shirt in the woods,
He’s worn it all week
Pulled out cordwood with me —
Broke his truck down twice,
Climbed under and fixed it —
Drove the family to town
For supper at the Burger King
And wore the same shirt.
Said maybe his father had left it
On a tree the week before while
Cutting logs, or a hunter had walked
Through and forgot about it.
That’s his logic, makes sense.
Found over a low beech branch —
Tufted flannel, doggy, typical —
The same color these hills are
After the beautiful leaves have dropped.
No Tool or Rope or Pail
It hardly mattered what time of year
We passed by their farmhouse,
They never waved,
This old farm couple
Usually bent over in the vegetable garden
Or walking the muddy dooryard
Between house and red-weathered barn.
They would look up, see who was passing,
Then look back down, ignorant to the event.
We would always wave nonetheless,
Before you dropped me off at work
Further up on the hill,
Toolbox rattling in the backseat,
And then again on the way home
Later in the day, the pale sunlight
High up in their pasture,
Our arms out the window
And it was that one midsummer evening
We drove past and caught them sitting
Together on the front porch
At ease, chores done,
The tangle of cats and kittens
Cleaning themselves of fresh spilled milk
On the barn door ramp;
We drove by and they looked up —
The first time I’ve ever seen their
Hands free of any work,
No tool or rope or pail —
And they waved.
WHERE RIVERS MEET
(Mad River Press)