clatter, the sound of kitchens and thunder
lashed together, centrifugal.
Something races toward us fast:
Happiness? Death? Look how loosely
those logs are strapped.
What are these words we've sawed off?
piled with stripped pine
drum hard as they slam over potholes.
Anything tied can break free
and no love lasts standing still.
This we know, balancing a cargo of luck.
The freight-bearing axles groan.
We are fully loaded,
and all that shrieking is just the weight
of what binds us.
men ride horses sweeter than women
and women more crystalline
than snowflakes. Out from Missouri
they break down in their wagons
but your hero, broken from his solitude,
takes care of them, chops wood
for domestic fires he loathes
craves. Against the south wall
he lays out, lovingly, the lines
of a kitchen garden, greens
to trap an easier breed.
The real husband,
tripping over his still-stiff lariat,
loves him too. It will all
turn out right.
manly set of jaw, the woman's
blue dress whipping about her legs
in Wyoming: no different than a pas de deux,
such restraint. A time pure as green air
pours down from those high meadows.
of Love, your imagination
taxes snow to become more
than snow, but the roar
of blizzard in those pines
is nothing but winter.
stranger and the woman
send up showers of sparks at every glance.
He retreats from heat into advice:
Ma'am, he says,
sleep with one eye open. Those braves
like the color of your hair.
Come spring, I'll be back
to see how you're gettin' on.
Take good care of that boy there,
and your man, luckier than he knows.
we all know, Louis.
The stranger rides due west,
sunset making his invisible
tears look especially wet.
His horse's hide glows red-
gold, one sustained note
on the permanent horizon remaining
in the eye long past twilight.
Carroll teaches writing, literature, and art at Vermont College
in its interdisciplinary, low-residency, independent-study Adult
Degree Program. Her poems and stories have appeared in Texas
Quarterly, Louisville Review, American Writing, Slant, Beloit
Poetry Journal, The MacGuffin, and many other literary magazines
and several anthologies. Recently she has been following an
irresistible desire to make abstract paintings in watercolor
and pastel, and she has had group and solo shows in Vermont
and Virginia. Two of her early pastels are online at http://members.nbci.com/jpallen/Drawing/Rhoda.html.