Steers in Winter

 

Christmas day we played the savior.

Overnight ice swallowed anything

close to green, and then the north wind

set in to freeze. From the high barn window,

 

we saw the cattle in the bottomground

standing church-pew still, dumb, fat,

stupid, but mostly stunned with what

must've seemed a horrid pale apocalypse.

 

We loaded bales on a flatbed wagon,

shot a tractor's nose full of ether,

and skidded down the lane to the pasture.

We thawed the chain with language and a hatchet.

 

Those Angus steers stood quiet as the damned.

Even when we slit the orange twine

and kicked out sheaves, they stood like stones,

too cold to believe in the grace of hay.

 

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