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Responsibility


ISSUE:  Fall 2008

At the lower fence line under the stars
he hears what at first he takes
to be the neighbor’s mare come
to investigate his apple pocket,

but then gets that neck-chill
and knows otherwise and turns
to see by starlight alone a dust devil
spitting along perpendicular to the wire

and straight at him. He’s seen thousands
of the things but never crossed paths
with one on foot, and watches
as long as he can before the grit

of its coming edge gets in his eyes.
Then up his pants-legs and sleeves
the dust spins. His shirt wants to open
over his spine, his cap levitates

and vanishes, the fence buzzes
and rattles, its staples scraping, its posts
making a knuckle-crack clatter,
and then it’s past, back-and-forthing

over the pasture toward the hulk
of the old stable, from the roof of which
it removes three or four thin flimsy shakes
and causes the old gelding, BJ,

to flinch and whirl and trot out into the open
and glare, with stars in his eyes,
at the man who is responsible
for everything that happens.

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