Riell Books

Ways of Looking: Poems of the Farm

Like A Painting

The sun just risen
over the cold-blanched hills,
cows shuffling in place
in the steaming barn
and an invisible rooster
reckoning the time,

my father walked slowly
from the silent, sleeping house
across the snow-covered driveway,
my child's boots following his tracks.
He lay down in the cow barn
on a small bed of dried hay
in an empty pen,

pushed with his hands
against the rupture that pulled
pain through him
like a rasp dragging
across a face,

then lifted himself
up, right hand grasping
a stout board on the calves' manger,
and proceeded with the milking,
the cows giving forth
their meager winter servings
of warm milk
into the tall cold pail,

all the time pain hanging
its cruel presence on my father,
like the frozen sun on top
of a frozen hill, like a painting
hanging on a wall
in the house of my childhood.

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