Monday, January 23, 2017


Cup (remembering the old man)

We watched the thunderstorm

Blow over from the west,

Darken the upper hill of

Pasture, brush away

Daylight in barn

Windows, make it awful

Dark for two-in-the-afternoon

You said, now listen

And because you usually

Only spoke when you had

Something to say, I did

Listen, nearly held my breath

Waiting — looking up into

Your eyes and tiny white

Hairs in your nose and ears

And when the shower began

We heard it first in the

Wave of trees far off —

You looked and

Smiled at me

Hoping I had heard it —

Those few seconds in life

When earth, trees and even man

Turn their cup up to the rain

The Man Who Spoke To Animals

Today I heard Mason Weathers was put
Into the hospital a month ago after
A stroke, and I thought he was
Missing this fall when geese
Passed over his hill-farm’s steel roofs
Heading south with the river

Mason is always up and around those days
Even though he is two years retired from
Farming and is said to sit in a chair
Smoking cigarettes by his roadside window,
Wondering like a few of the old timers left —
What in the world has happened
To all this land and town he loves

Many years ago he gave up attending
Town meeting — was busy sawing logs for taxes —
But of course it was the new people
Now in the chairs of his dead friends
That drove him away, into deeper snow
Clutching a chain saw

One time I borrowed from Mason
His heavy snag of tractor rope
To do tree work for people he knew
In the village, and in my rush limbing
Sawed off a six-foot tail of that rope —
When I brought it back Mason met me
On his porch — with its pose over the
Valley — a smile on his muscular face,
Nodded and said, “It was all right, just
Six-feet shorter,” then walked back inside

They say today he has no memory for
That sort of thing. Sits up in a hospital
Bed with daily visits from his wife Ruth
Who tells friends back home Mason has
Been struck with sugar, and the stroke has
Left one side of his body blank as
A dead elm tree — imagine a man who once
Spoke to animals ending up this way

The Reason I Love to Build Stone Walls

and have for so long

is that I need few

tools to do the job

I could walk to work

free at hand

nearly whistling

until I arrive

(not wanting to

look too happy)

and the stones

are there lopsided

appearing miserably

out of place to

someone else

as I kneel

maybe with a 3 lb.

hammer I’ve brought

                                          along for company


Bob Arnold
Once In Vermont