Let the grass grow. I garden first
so I choose the beast in the middle stall,
the dirtivore, and leave the herbivores
for another day, though I have at hand their new
spark plugs, filters, grease, and oil.
Still in the barn, I pull the dirt-eater’s
rope, but old and stubborn, he ignores me.
So I grab his high hip-bone handles
and drag him out. Somehow he seems heavier
than he did last year. The day will come
when I have to call for help with him.
Finally, in the barn lot, I wrestle old
dirt breath onto his side and drain
his oil. I inspect one round front hoof
and grease his ankle, pick mud and straw
from his sharp hind claw, turn him over
and repeat. I pull him upright, refill
his oil, refilter his lung, change his pacemaker,
and fill his gullet with gasoline.
I harness him in settings—drive, start, choke—
and pull his starter rope. But no response.
Pull again and pull again. When my shoulder
hurts, he gives a snort, seventh pull a growl.
On the ninth he roars and throbs.
Giddap, gee, haw he remembers,
but at whoas he shudders, grunts, and trembles.
I understand. This morning it took a while
to warm the stiffness from my own hips and hands.
But once I’m started, I don’t want to stop
because tomorrow’s starting may be harder.
(“I am 65. I got this tiller when I was 30, so it’s 35!”)
This article was published originally in 2019, in GreenPrints Issue #117.