Montana Man

“. . .the sky’s wide and blue and bare. . .”

Another ekphrastic poem today, based on a photograph by Tom Klassy.

He squints from under a John Deere cap
even when there is no sun. It’s late fall now,
the hay — enough this year — baled
for January feeding if the pickup makes it
to the herd — huddled, wooly, steamy breath
to match his own, pitch fork separating clouds
of gold, strewing it like loaves and fishes —
that kind of pride, though pride’s a wobbly perch
when drought and blight’s the norm, when the pickup
needs a fuel pump, barn needs shingles.

But this morning, the sky’s wide and blue
and bare, and Waylon’s singing Ramblin’ Man
while he hums along. Bernice’ll have coffee
scalding hot at the cafe, and prices were up
on the farm report this morning. Folks and steers
ain’t so different, he reckons, herd gathering,
keeping with their kind.

– Sarah Russell
First published in Ekphrastic Review