Hay Day Canticle    Leaf Press  2013

Hay Day Canticle Leaf Press 2013

The hay was mint and green and grew far off
in the west field that wobbled our racks, each one
pulled by a pair of nags who stopped to cough
now and then a green slobbery spasm the sun
made glimmer so we never thought to bring
a vet's help where age had entered and begun
under that wide blue sky speckled with wings
of hawk and insect and crow, and clouds
coming and going as if pulled on a string
by the wind's long arm, some days crowds
of grey up there huddled together to make
us turn our sweaty collars up, almost proud
we could pitch and work without a break
in any weather, throwing up the cut grass
into the rack, not minding how the snake
flung himself away from our feet-alas
the dogs were on him, flinging his narrow
soul up to those very clouds that passed
without bothering to note among the yarrow
the blood, among the shiny tines of our forks
the abandoned nest of the field sparrow
with its intricate beak-woven fancywork
that made me pause, not to admire but recall
end of day meant school's irksome homework

About Hay Day Canticle David says: "A portrait of an agricultural feed-supply salesman may be an unusual subject for a poem, and how I came upon the speaker in Hay Day Canticle is not entirely clear, but as his story presented itself to me, I followed him from prairie-farm childhood through first sex to marriage, affairs, baseball. At the time I had been reading Louis MacNeice's Autumn Sequel, a poem whose use of rhyme had long interested me. I suddenly found myself using MacNeice's form, and the result is this nine-part narrative, each part consisting of eight three-line stanzas, a shape helpful in releasing and containing the man's song of tragedies and joys."