Fence

A fence next to a dirt road,
weary, grey cedar rails sagging and broken.

An old man walks the fence line, dressed in bibs camouflaged with faded oil stains.
On his head, a tattered straw hat with pink band,
hair long and thick dances in the breeze,
captured in a ponytail tied with twine,
wispy strands escape and dance in the breeze.

He stops, stares at the rails,
lifts the hat off his head – a bald spot shines in the midday sun.
Scratching the bare pate, he stares at the grey, jumbled disarray,
shakes his head and limps down the rail’s jagged course.

He unpins a gate and steps through to the pasture exploding with Canada thistle and milkweed.
Monarchs hover.

In the middle a rock pile,
thrown down in his youth from a hay rack drawn by Billy and Jo.

Sitting on a warm stone in the noonday sun,
he sweeps his head with a blue bandana,
and surveys the air full of life: blue birds, orioles, finches, dragonflies and bees.

Holsteins roamed here – bellowing in complaint about god knows what,
thirsty after the windmill fell, when water stopped its rise to the gray stock tank.

He fidgets with a pocket watch – no gold here – a poor man’s timepiece, engraved,
“John – 1889”.
It remains closed.
He knows the time.

Grasses sway in a green chorus,
and pass on the meandering zephyr to the aspen grove at the field’s edge,
where leaves rattle in the sun.
The bugs give up flight control and drift with the wind, as he does.

He stands – disappears.

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