The new guy is never two or three days late.
Cowboy lean and tan, with a face-smooth lack of years,
he sets out a fancy anvil stand with all of all his fingers,
and doesn’t grimace when he lifts the black iron in place.
He’s all-business-no-nonsense in ironed Wranglers
but some things never change.
He lifts a foot, trims and shapes, nails the horse sound again.
He’s slimmer than when she was fifteen, his prices higher,
but fixes things with anviled plate iron for six weeks, maybe eight—
each shape examined before tonged into water, each angle exact.
“I wish I could do that with poems,” she says, “make a perfect fit.”
“Well,” he rasps off the uneven edge, “words are tougher to shape than iron.”
As she latches the gate, he leans on the fence to wait
in a gesture that recalls her uncles, her cousins,
her sense of entirety in a sacred space
and she takes her checkbook from her back pocket.
She wishes it didn’t feel like such a waste of time and money
since each nail fixes a piece of her life for another six or seven weeks.
for Rich Mervin & Pete Arritola