Tractor Race

My father competed in a tractor race blindfolded,
his new wife behind him holding the reins.
It is easy to picture this – we’ve all seen a rider
atop a horse, or two people working together
to get to an end. My father and his new wife
did get to the end, they got there first and waited
for the other couples: the slower ones, the ones
a bit more careful, and some others – the drivers
a little misled. When my father and his new wife
stepped down from their tractor – their ribbons
lifting a little in the wind – the audience clapped,
and clapped, clapped long and hard, as we often
clap harder at what we cannot see. One couple
in the tractor race did not make it to the end.
The wife led her husband off the tracks, through
a fence, out a gate, between parked cars, and over
a hillside. The wife steered her husband far
from the clapping audience, far from the fair fields,
cameras, parents with their tickets and drinks.
As the couple disappeared behind the barns,
the couples in the audience turned away, some
covered the eyes of their children. Even now
they try not to think how the two of them
rode off, how they are out there now by the river
washing their feet and pinning each other
with ribbons of twigs, grasses, and fallen leaves.

Jan LaPerle received her M.F.A from Southern Illinois University. Her poems are published in Subtropics, Tar River Poetry Review, Dislocate, and elsewhere. She currently lives in East Tennessee with the poet Clay Matthews. (jannasperle@yahoo.com)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761