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To Crop, to Thresh

Alfalfa & cloves & the smell of cinnamon
coat your skin like fur, the sweat new & not spoiled
the condensation of the canvas water bag far off
alongside the cattle-truck, steers complaining in their pen
your work a panic to keep up, the orbit of hay a form of forever
your father shoulders hay bales to his neck, Wyoming
burning away all but chaff; you stumble under the weight,
bucking bale after bale, two hooks for hands, each punch
into the wet meat of them like a punishment; the hole
that rips away is a ball of rattlesnakes, the bale
is the planet you heft, the boil of the snakes is a moon.
Your father has a bale across his shoulders, his boots careless
as they twist & crush all that moves; these babies, you think, borne
toothless & without the cry that would be their god.


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