Tonight I’m to occupy a single breath:
to let it slowly out as an open kettle might
release its steam, left long on the stove.
Eventually all substance turns to vapor

& accumulates in the air, then falls
again as a globe under its own weight.
Bodies must be near each other, it seems,
even when the result is simple collapse.

Only the globe is never falling—
it’s the thing that imitates the globe
falls into it, as I now imitate, & fail,

the voice of my father, who sits breathing
with his dog at the mouth of the river.
My breath, too, rises & falls. Listen.
 

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Hay for the Horses

He had driven half the night
From far down San Joaquin
Through Mariposa, up the
Dangerous Mountain roads,
And pulled in at eight a.m.
With his big truckload of hay
        behind the barn.
With winch and ropes and hooks
We stacked the bales up clean
To splintery redwood rafters
High in the dark, flecks of alfalfa
Whirling through shingle-cracks of light,
Itch of haydust in the 
        sweaty shirt and shoes.
At lunchtime under Black oak
Out in the hot corral,
---The old mare nosing lunchpails,
Grasshoppers crackling in the weeds---
"I'm sixty-eight" he said,
"I first bucked hay when I was seventeen.
I thought, that day I started,
I sure would hate to do this all my life.
And dammit, that's just what
I've gone and done."