by Frank Graham


This is the hour of what work is
and the whole creature with that metal
mass working against the soil, whether
with plow or brush hog, the mass
of the plodding instrument, clawing
over the earth, the skin of terrain pulled
back by the aching machine. All day it putts
about the land, loading, unloading
A spinning joint from the rear, that,
as the throttle pours in gasoline, into
that small glass chamber and down
the line, spins on. The tractor is a landscape,
a silhouette against the sky along the tin-
topped shacks and farm barns that pop
up over the ochre sunsets. Weathered,
more than any of its years, the paint
taking on pastels, what was once
emboldened with American
red and blue has taken on the white
of age and faded. The gears still slip
solidly, sweetly, as if the arthritis of years
shows but never took hold. Work is
the tractor, with all its labor and laboring,
the muscle at the edge of days. When
the final load, the final grip, takes
the land, that rusted chain wrapped
around a stubborn stump takes hold
and the final root pulls clean from the earth,
the tractor, part of earth itself,
will moan out deep and slow.

Frank Dixon Graham is published in Evansville Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, This Land, Harvard University Scriptorium, Song of the San Joaquin, and many other journals. Graham is an adjunct professor of English and currently lectures at the University of California at Davis Center for International Education as well as at Sacramento City College, Davis. He has served as an editor for the past decade, including stints with Tule Review, Pitkin Review, and Poetry Now. Graham holds an MFA from Goddard College and has additional professional certification in editing and TESL.