Walk To The Barn
All of life, even the mountains
Around him are changing.
Yet he walks twice each day
To the barn up the wide gravel drive,
No more cattle inside.
His slow and steady pace
Pays respect to the surrounding pasture,
The ring of woodland and evening birds.
What once made him prosperous
Is now gone, except for what he loves —
His wife, old dog, farm buildings and land.
He leans open the heavy sliding barn door,
Steps out of view.
At The Country Wedding
They don’t tinkle
With their spoons here
And only the old folks
Are sitting down.
A country western group
Has lugged its equipment upstairs,
And later today and into the evening
This young married couple
Will learn the sweet
And rotten joys
From the masters of it —
Dancing fathers and mothers,
Lonesome aunts and yodeling uncles.
But for the moment
Paper plates are heaped with
Homemade ham, biscuits and beans
And all a few people want
Is a kiss,
So tapping on the side
Of a beer bottle with a knife
Quiets the whole grange hall down
Late in the afternoon
This farmer drove his tractor
Across the river, broke open the thin ice,
Put out salt in the bare ground mowing
And if you looked, you could find his
Red jacket working behind the trees.
That night edges of the river froze again.
Big bright stars burned cold over the hills.
I was carrying in cookstove wood
For the next morning
When the gunshot shook down valley,
Then back up.
Two days later a farm dog
Held the deer’s head
Where he lay down
WHERE RIVERS MEET
(Mad River Press)