Calories of burden
The rag the man uses to polish
the axels; the sound those axels make
The rain amid the clip-clop of
mules’ feet; the rag now lying in the street.
Wood bestowed unto the Earth;
souls receiving souls; the rain falling silent
On oil dark piles. Iron shovels,
spades and rakes; mules now silent, pulling
no more weight.
And the man who feeds them
wages of his sweat: their calories of burden.
for the wash has
lift, gains height off
a taut cord. Tingle of
hair burning the palm is
the same on every draw;
a Hooper’s gift for his wife
now showering cloth. Wood
roots for the pair, several words
for fire. Smoke from their signature
cuts into the soft wood; a family affair
at the communal well. But water, jester,
that lithe traveler come again and gainsay
plans. A shadow who seeps then retreats to
cozen the fastener until the band breaks. He
is Hooper’s master and teacher, Tao of labor.
This is my experience
At this rate of speed
things pass undistinguished.
It is customary
to watch for the orange line
with its purple overlay of dusk
and grasp the garment that
a king let fall. It will either stall or
pull us across.
In a slovenly wilderness of second
nature we lose members of our party
One by one to congregations that flash
by like ambulances.
They have wheels
on their backs not wings
but still lead the young along
the furrow’s edge looking for torches
In some missing village.
Jeremy Nathan Marks is a St. Louis, Missouri born Marylander who came to Canada seven years ago and can’t decide if the cows he has been seeing in his dreams have been fat or have been thin. By moving away from his native land he somehow has become more connected with his roots. Poetry, photography and wild nature are his Muses while the PhD he came here to do has become more like a guest who has overstayed his welcome. His work has been published numerous places including The Blue Hour, Lake: A journal of arts and environment, and at The Camel Saloon. Three of his poems will be forth coming in the summer edition of the Wilderness House Literary Review. He and his wife Michelle live with their animal family in London, Ontario.