The Tractor of Theseus (National Poetry Month Day 20)

Beneath the barn it’s laid, its use has fled
the bones; it hefts no plow, sits idly in
a sea of tarp that drowns the naked steel
and clings, suggesting wretched shapes beneath
the waves, sailors and wreckage all bobbing there.

The owner will tell: he inherited
that scrap, a warrior from ancient fields
crippled and battered with rust-eaten holes
stippled across the pale and peeling paint.
It cannot drive, it cannot brake, and fuel
spews from the rotting veins; the steering’s shot;
the heart hydraulic will never heave; the
power takeoff shaft is stuck; the headlights
sit hollow like empty eyes; mice stripped
the fan-belt, the filters, gathered all
into the engine, nested beneath their
very own blue sky; the wheels are absent; no
useful thing remains among that corpse.

Yet when the elder owner’s asked, he grins,
and says, “I still have my father’s tractor.”

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