This was in Wyoming, in the mountains,
when we were driving to make
time on a summer trip. Ahead
of ourselves that day,
we saw the incidental
marking on the map. Curious about
the place, we turned
off. The rutted road we climbed
narrowed, and petered out to just a
stony track for
deer or sheep,
too steep to take a car.
The top we came to was
open like a shelf,
noisy with wind.
We saw the Medicine Wheel,
the ring of stones
like a cemetery in heaving wind,
the marker stones,
in this high altitude,
as strange to me as
promises to clouds,
like language uttered by the ground
Belief, I thought, could find beginning there,
where everything below the mountain seems to kneel.
I thought about the purpose of a wheel
that sleeps in stillness, where
there is no need to move.
We do it telling jokes at first,
working across the new-mown field.
An easy rhythm takes us out:
two walk behind the truck, one drives;
the walkers stack the wagon-bed.
Hay stubble bristles under foot.
Rain has made the numbers good.
We load a neat geometry
eighteen bales long, four wide,
four high. The axles creak
with this square profit from the sun.
of thick alfalfa dust.
We shake it from our hair and cough.
We wear green chaff like cloth.
The loading done, we lean and talk.
Now, let it rain.
The sky's grey moods can fall.
We've pulled the field inside.