By the end of winter every stall
Had a compressed foot of straw and manure.
Swallows swooped in
Through the open doors, with beak-fulls
Of mud from the frog-ringed pond edge,
Patching rims to hold this year’s eggs in -
Half moon nests stuck to the cobwebby rafters.
The sliver new moon was there in the west,
In air both warm and cool.
After each load, the tractor hauls it
Out in spirals round the field. The tines fling
Funk that falls like manna on the quickening
Grass. The farmer’s arms throb with a satisfied ache,
His chest takes the spring in like a pipe draw, glazed
With sweat his new exposed skin is luminous
As sunset reddened snow. One more time around the
Hill he goes, and parks it in the barn.
Now he can stand, for a spell, and
Contemplate the finished task - listen to
The steady munching, the calve tongues scrapping
In the troughs, the froglets cloud of bell peeps
by the branch, the swallows arcing in the dusk,
and slowly walk back to the house.
There is no greater purpose
Than shoveling shit.
We aspire no higher than to become soil.