The throb of the tractor's diesel carrying over the fields.
From the house, all afternoon, the steady lope.
She puts the leg back on a chair.
Writes a thank you to their niece.
At six, she eats a cold supper and blinks out the window.
The engine chugs.
By ten, she knows:
this is something; it's something.
She phones their son, who comes
with flashlight and follows the sound.
On a gentle rise in the meadow
he circles the tractor, plays his beam across and back,
then draws it close. Closer.
The old man has reached in the baler
without killing the motor.
It's run fast idle, six, seven hours.
Till two in the morning
men stand in the freshcut.
Their long shadows lean and stretch in a circle of light.
Voices kept low in the quiet.
From a distance: the herd,
Then this: red-brown splotch
lone against green ground.
He cranks the tractor,
drags her to a corner.
Her sisters chew.
Piled with cast-off trailer tires
she is kerosened, lit,
becomes briefly fire blossom.
What killed her oxidizes
till she gutters out, smolders
three days. Buzzards stay away.
Insects wait for rain.
in six months she is
Next year, grass.
Nick Norwood's most recent book is Gravel and Hawk
. He teaches at Columbus State University and directs the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians.
Poems from Gravel and Hawk by Nick Norwood, copyright 2012. This material is used by permission of Ohio University Press. http://www.ohioswallow.com/book/Gravel+and+Hawk