Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Art of Mucking Out

Garrison Keillor has put out three volumes of “Good Poems” now. The latest came to us as a gift from nice friends. I’ve enjoyed it immensely, but came across one poem I just must share because of my many horse-friends and the years I spent mucking out horse stalls. I hope I’m not disobeying copyright law.
by Charlie Leck

I found a wonderful poem yesterday in a collection of poems gathered up by Garrison Keillor (Good Poems – American Places). This is a really terrific collection that I have enjoyed immensely. This one, The Zen of Mucking Out (by Maxine Kumin), I post here for my horse friends (especially Sam Stern) who know this stuff all too well (the poem is really nice). I have lots of friends who will understand it…

I never liked this stubbled field so much
as now
, Keats wrote John Reynolds
and in my upper pasture I feel the same

where the last two horses of our lives
are at their day-long work reducing
the lightly frosted grass of mid-October

to manure, and I at mine, my five-
foot fork with ten metal tines, the hickory
handle worn down by my grip

so many years it almost seems to sweat –
muck basket to wheelbarrow, fork
upended till I reach the mother bed

and dump my smeary load, the stop.
White pine embroidery to the east,
a narrow view of Pumpkin Hill across,

lissome pond behind me. One late
garter snake sits sunning on an outcrop.
From the highway the vigor of sirens

announces a world of metal and speed
beyond my blinkered allegiance
to this task. My fingerprint,

my footstep. My zen.


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