The Clearing Of The Land

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The trees went up the hill
And over it.
Then the dry grasses of the pasture were
Only a kind of blonde light
Settling everywhere
And framing the randomly strewn
Outcropping of gray stone
That anchored them to soil.

Who were they?
One in the picture, and one not, and both
Scotch-Irish drifters,
With nothing in common but a perfect contempt
For a past;
Ancestors of stumps and fallen trees and . . .
One is sitting on a sorrel mare, idly tossing
Small stones at the rump
Of a steer that goes on grazing
At tough rosettes of pasture grass
And switching its tail
In what is not even irritation.
What I like, what I

Have always liked, is the way he tosses each small
Stone without thinking, without
A thought for anything, not even for aiming it,
The easy, arcing forearm nonchalance
Like someone fly-casting.
For this is what he wanted:
To be among the stones, the grasses,
Savoring a stony self
That reminded him of no one else,
And on land where that poacher, Law,
Had not yet stolen through his fences,
The horse beneath him twitching
Its withers lightly to keep
The summer flies away,

And the woman in the flower print dress hemmed
With stains
A half mile off
Is the authoress of no more than smoke rising,
Her sole diary,
From a distant chimney.
They have perhaps a year or two
Left of this
Before History begins to edit them into
Something without smoke or flies, something
Beyond all recognition.

© Larry Levis