H. L. Davis
See, in a dead vine,
How many blackbirds are swinging—the lives there
In vines and in dead leaves that need no help of you.
Rein your horse into the salal, Davis, follow down
The cleared ground, this frosty day, to the threshing-floor.
Red is women close together in the broken weeds,
Watching the horses: red dresses and blue,
Thin cloth of early-day dresses spread among the burrs.
Yellow is where the threshing-floor is, and horses’ hoofs
Beat the grain-heads into chaff; and cold wind
Strews chaff over the bushes and to the eyes.
Women call to the horse-driver, and laugh out
At the man behind the horses who catches the horse-droppings
With his hands to keep the grain clean.
And, crippled old man,
You shake in this cold wind, yet have come out-of-doors
To see your grain threshed again: under the sky, clearer
Than a beach, you stand shaking, and face the chaff with red eyes.
I fork a horse on the hill above the threshing-floor.
Driver and bundle-handlers, the ones in red dresses,
I must lose none of this; because men I have known
Are less simple, or are secret as birds in vines.