On Modest Mussourgsky’s “Bydlo”

A shape appears
and is gone,
comes into view,
disappears, until,
cresting the hill,
the spot
blotting the sun,
a cartload of hay,
takes shape.

Emerging,
the wagon,
oxen-drawn, a juggernaut pulled
by two thousand pounds,
rolls between fields–
grinding dirt,
crushing stones.

Sweating flanks
of coarse,
matted hair
cause slow,
rhythmic hammering,
dull thunder
as hooves pound earth.
The ground moves
to the sound
of these hardened
timpani.

Beast and wagon pass,
processional,
as if solemn,
and then recede
slowly
out of sight.

A wake is left–
strong pungent odor
of musk
mixed

with the sweet sharpness
of the cut stalks
being carried
to the village beyond.

©2017, Bill Cushing

Author:

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