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Rebecca Weiner Tompkins: A Red Tractor

Today I watched a young boy, his jacket fallen beside him,

watching something over a gray fence. I could see

a red tractor parked in a field of dead March grass.

The boy stood on tip-toes, on the bottom rail, just looking

at that wonderful, overgrown toy. He didn’t notice

when I idled the car behind him, or when I drove on.


I think about this last day of a month when

winter’s left behind and spring’s still

too far ahead, like that machine we can’t climb on

unless someone will offer us a ride, and we know they won’t.

But we stand right there, as though expecting

the engine to start going, and the ground to begin turning over

rich and dark, ready for planting.


It’s not weather or seasons I’m really thinking about,

merely the time of year, in a year of big changes,

when the best, most awaited change is about to happen,

yet seems more remote than in all the months before. We see it

sitting right over there, the same as spring, the same

as that red tractor; and we can only stare at it over a fence.

Where would it take us anyway, just around that old

patch of dirt. Still, then it would begin to rumble and dig

and what we’d been hoping for would come through at last,

newer and greener than in any year past,

at least that’s what we’d say as we sat high up

on the tarnished seat, having been lifted to it

exactly like we’d been waiting for all along.

From King of the Fireflies (Sensitive Skin, 2018) by Rebecca Weiner Tompkins. Copyright 2018 Rebecca Weiner Tompkins

Tompkins is a poet and violinist who divides her time between New York and Nashville.

Rebecca Weiner Tompkins

4 comments on “Rebecca Weiner Tompkins: A Red Tractor

  1. kennethrosenpoet
    October 6, 2021

    Rebecca, finally managed to read this! FB had it blocked with an ad, wouldn’t let it scroll, etc., etc., Rosen’s woe is me, etc. Anyhow, very pleasing to read. The rhyme with ‘past’ near the end, gave me a happy jolt, so I went looking for it, and all I could find was ‘patch,’ and I said no, that doesn’t account for my happy jolt, and suddenly there it was, right in front of me, ‘what we’d been hoping for would come through at last’! What a sweet poem. Thank you. May we all keep on keeping on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carl Berg
    October 6, 2021

    Does anyone else remember going to the State Fair or the County Fair and climbing on the tractors on display? Or do you go now, and look at the Antique ones, still of a size you can imagine driving? Which is all an aside from the thrust of Rebecca’s poem, but poems do awaken memory in us.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on October 6, 2021 by in Environmentalism, Poetry and tagged , .

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