Walks across the shorn feed
he’s bowed slightly
but not like a man hunched
like a man leaning into his work
like a man bowed in prayer.
With his woven sun hat
and tidy blue shirt
he looks like a man of leisure
heading to the links.
But he’s really heading to the back 40
to lift pipes as heavy as a mortgage
to feed the river into the field
to feed the stock
to feed his wife
“Use your water rights or lose them,
avista raises the rates per kilowatt every year.”
He spreads his hands like the Montana sky
“The water’s free but takes everything we got to pump it out.”
He says savoring the challenge in every syllable.
“But we know whose king and who’ll stand before who.”
Farmer Nielson hasn’t time to spare
but he gives it generously
to a city boy driving a hay stacker.
Farmer Nielson stand sin the door
gently guiding the feed from field to stacks.
He’s little time to rest
but watches grandkids bouncing in the haze of the truck
crossing finished work
to where he stands
smiling, giving thanks.