Issue > Poetry
David Thacker

David Thacker

David Thacker’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Subtropics, Nimrod International Journal, Sycamore Review, and elsewhere. He earned an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Idaho, where he was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize. He currently teaches writing at the University of Idaho.


—William Thacker, outside Clarkston, Utah, 1865
like grain poured from a sack
like the whole cloudbank

glooming the sleigh's tracks all afternoon
finally ripped wide on a pine

and come down hissing   my nerves
sunk to dread   hollered and wailed

which jolted the oxen   and the snow
started to scream   steadily

came on like waves
reforming   over me   white

on white on breaking white
ducked my head below the blanket heap

out of the bluster   eyes and ears
no good to me   stowed the goad

no force of mine lashed here or there
could do a thing but turn us surely

heavenward   gripped the dash
and let the oxen go   imagined them

my hands emboldened
walking Rachel's gingham folds   at home

as she paused between loaves   Christmas Eve
in the new house   the neighbor's grist

at the mill in town   wages
waiting in his coffers   our own crop

gone to hoppers   this storm one more attempt
to smother us   I couldn't see a thing

but Rachel doling out the last wheat
in cakes that fit our children's palms

hid my head and let my oxen appendages
steer us all

in the damp darkness under the runners'
constant shush I listened hard   coaxed

my heart to slow   reined my lungs
until my body ceased

fretting and the wind drowned itself
and in the sleigh's lurch and sway

wood and metal groans
led up the tongue to the rubbing yoke

and the creak of each bow
shown clear   necks and spines

meat shifting through the shoulders
huffs and draws of winter air

toward home's distant bellow
we lumbered   a pair of fists

a blind faith   an undertow


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