Thursday, September 2, 2010

off-horse scrambling

The hay rake
by Kate Barnes (poem from Writers Almanac)

One evening I stopped by the field

to watch the hay rake

drawn toward me by two black, tall, ponderous horses

who stepped like conquerors over the fallen oat stalks,

light-shot dust at their heels, long shadows before them.

At the ditch the driver turned back in a wide arc,

the off-horse scrambling, the near-horse pivoting neatly.

The big side-delivery rake came about with a shriek—

its tines were crashing, the iron-bound tongue groaned aloud—

then, Hup, Diamond! Hup, Duke!

and they set off west,

trace-deep in dust, going straight into the low sun.

The clangor grew faint, distance and light consumed them;

a fiery chariot rolled away in a cloud of gold

and faded slowly, brightness dying into brightness.

The groaning iron, the prophesying wheels,

the mighty horses with their necks like storms

—all disappeared;

nothing was left but a track

of dust that climbed like smoke up the evening wind.