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The Old Hauler

He limps into the barn
with intentions among suggestions.
He leans on his cane in the same angle
the earth tilts,
and it's a lesson in resignation.

He lets us know if someone has sold out,
and the price of milk next month.
We send our bull calves in on Thursdays
because the old hauler tells us to.

He rubs the neck of the cattle
that look out of his trailer.
He once farmed, but the farm is gone.
He still gets up at four,
because something tells him to.

His shirt sleeves fold neatly over the scars beneath them.
He closes the latch behind the wide-eyed calf.
Once it's in your blood, he says,
you can't get it out.

The old hauler asks what we're putting in the tank,
and if we got our corn in with the weather.
Every time he leaves I understand our communion better:
how come he rests on the gate so heavily,
and why he speaks to the bulls
he takes to slaughter.

Ryan Dennis

The Threepenny Review

Spring 2013

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