The Scythe

My father divided the sun's arc
with the curved knife of a scythe,
cut the day down in swung crescents
and sap-dyed steps through a field

that kept no purpose but to be open
and grow high. His cutter's lilt,
the tilt and torsion, was his father's.
Before that it was grained in the curl

of the snath, never shaped but grown
in the grey ash that made its handle,
a tool uprooted, a movement
found and anchored like a stone.

At his center of gravity: this rune.
His blade-span and sway mouthed its name
in the way the firm muscle of a rainbow
trout speaks the river's mind.

I was far behind in his swath,
spreading straw to dry yellow in the sun,
rolling hay into riddles, unfurling tarps
to peg down all the work we'd done.

Each shadow grew long in the tooth,
and when the scythe hung dormant
on nail hooks sunk in the stable wall
I took it down with both hands,

held the handles, fixed a balance
with the bone-rule cradled in its blade,
felt a gait and radius shifting weight
as relic-marrows tightened in my frame.

:: James Langer, Gun Dogs

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