beneath the swaying white wagon top
he walks, she rides through the tall grass
that bends noiselessly beneath the wheels.
he, beside the team, surveys a world
shut in by the brim of a hat, locked
into its place, each hill new and familiar
as if waiting ten thousand years in the same place
to surprise him with its rehearsed spontaneity.
she, on the seat, sees less, her bonnet closed
on three sides like blinders she has chosen
to place on herself, locking out sky, wagon,
and her husband, closing off all that tugs
from behind her — a fireplace and a garden,
a stream and a stable and a sunday morning drive —
watching the team that draws her as by a rope,
hand over hand, to an unfamiliar home.
and falling a little behind is the boy that will sire men,
the tired child that will grow and marry and have children
that will be free for a while because of the sacrifice
he doesn’t even know he makes.
he, drooping his head, sees only the land that falls behind,
the land that some less ambitious man will own,
for his own home lies far ahead.
they move on together as though it were only a habit,
a pose held for an artist who is not there to paint it;
they sweep relentlessly toward the mountains,
and the father, walking stick in one hand,
stretches out the other as the land parts before them.

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