Carey McHugh

The Farrier

Early one morning on my way for iron,
autumn arrived, pocking the ground
with ovenbirds, nicking the white knives
of poplars, their scissored bracts, keeping
track of small fatigues: cords of wood,
the leaf-fall that finally levels. Decay
opens out like a colt, composure working
backward towards panic. Always this
pall before the hoof-step, the damp knit
of soil, wooded underbelly, muted
like a crown of maples. In this I have
fixed the thought of ore: a hammer exacting
after the lift of it has passed, iron as dull
want; vise, a dark stall. I say forge to ready
the legs, to coax the knuckled trunks still.

Carey McHugh
“The Farrier” is from Original Instructions for the Perfect Preservation of Birds &c., a chapbook published by the Poetry Society of America (2008).