by Nick Norwood

The throb of the tractor’s diesel carrying over the fields.
From the house, all afternoon, the steady lope.
She puts the leg back on a chair.
Writes a thank you to her niece.
At six, she eats a cold supper and thinks
out the window.
The engine drones.
She knows, by ten, it’s something
and phones their son, who comes
with a flashlight and follows the sound.
On a gentle rise in the meadow
he circles the tractor, plays his beam across and back,
then draws it close. Closer.
The old man had reached into the baler,
to fix, fiddle with, adjust,
without killing the motor.
Running fast idle six, seven hours.
Till two in the morning men stand
in the freshcut, cast long shadows
in a circle of searchlights.
Voices kept low in the quiet.

NICK NORWOOD’s third full volume of poems, Gravel and Hawk, won the Hollis Summers Prize in Poetry and was published by Ohio University Press in 2012. His poems have appeared widely, including in The Paris Review, Western Humanities Review, Shenandoah, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Poetry Daily, on the PBS News Hour site Art Beat, and on NPR’s Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. He is currently a professor of creative writing and the director of the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians at Columbus State University.