by Michael Olsen

Through a hundred daily touches
he is one with the horse, but she’s getting old
and he knows next year he’ll make his last good-
bye and pretend he doesn’t care.

The dust and sweat in the pores of his skin
become dark spots that cling for weeks.
He smiles at the job Patterson & Sons
will have to do to clean him up.

In his room the only quiet part of the day
he drops all his weariness on the bed, remembers
a girl thirty years ago who married someone
five hours closer than he was.

Each night he marvels at the fresh and indifferent stars,
but he likes to think they renew all they shine on,
even those who know nothing of red dust black flies
and the smell of land in the first thick rains of the wet.