Farmer Nielson

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.