Days like this could suck the sap out of a dead pine tree;
Heat and humidity flirting with triple digits
Even in the shade of a huge cottonwood
Shrugging its half-million puffs of seed
In something other than the needs
Of three acres of lawn and pasture
And whatever other edge catches the rapture
Of downy drift shifting with the slightest sense of breeze.
We walk out in the fading light beneath the locust tree,
Calling to the horses in the pasture to the north.
The geldings gather themselves in calm gait,
Sweat-darkened forms slickened along the back and withers.
Haltered in hand, they step out through the gate,
Hoofs quiet against the wilted grass,
Passing beneath the white curling bark of the birches.
Browning leaves skeleton-ed by caterpillars
Cluster delicate lace at the base of hosta and lilies.
By the time we finish with the feeding and watering,
Venus and Jupiter gleam in the lean light of the western sky,
A gentle brightening above the dark forms
Of Angus on the long hill beyond the creek.