At the lower fence line under the stars
he hears what at first he takes
to be the neighbor's mare,
come to investigate his apple pocket,
but then gets that neck-chill
and knows otherwise and turns
to see by starlight alone a dust devil
spitting along perpendicular to the wire
and straight at him. He's seen thousands
of the things but never crossed paths
with one on foot, and watches
as long as he can before the grit
of its coming edge gets in his eyes.
Then up his pants legs and sleeves
the dust of it spins. His shirt wants to open
over his spine, his cap levitates
and vanishes, the fence buzzes
and rattles, its staples scraping, its posts
making a knuckle-crack clatter--
and then it's past, back-and-forthing
over the pasture toward the hulk
of the old stable, from the roof of which
it removes three or four thin flimsy shakes
and causes the aged gelding BJ
to flinch and whirl and trot out into the open
and glare, with stars in his eyes,
at the man who is responsible
for everything that happens.
Robert Wrigley's most recent book is Anatomy of Melancholy & Other Poems. Other collections include Beautiful Country, Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems, Lives of the Animals; Reign of Snakes; In the Bank of Beautiful Sins; What My Father Believed; Moon in a Mason Jar; and The Sinking of Clay City. "Responsibility" was published in Wrigley's 2010 collection Beautiful Country.
He is currently teaching in the M.F.A. program in creative writing at the University of Idaho, where his wife, the memoirist and novelist Kim Barnes, also teaches.