I asked the stand-in trail boss if she’d send me up
a right-wheel specialist of sorts
as my old ox-cart, laden down,
stood firmly planted in the mud.
and soon she came
with bustle from some other part of work that sunny day –
‘one moment please’ -- set down her things
then circled back to look.
Brief glance at Bessy, standing by to throw
Herself back at Her task –
she looked and asked and prodded first the left-stuck wheel
then nodded in agreement – badly stuck it was –
but more a momentary kind of fix –
the kind that could, once freed,
move on to firmer ground quite quickly
and small trouble give again.
So to the right I led her – showed the mess
there’d been from long neglect –
and how the mud on that side
stretched ahead as far as I could see.
She changed at that point, --
watcher to the watched,
she showed and told and pointed out the way
to cut the logs and branches found nearby
then lay them ’fore the wheel –
not separate like
but inter-twined and meshed
into a road of sorts.
The morning sped with talk and toil
as she laid out the wood –
not to forever --
just before the wheel.
Then, brushing wisps of hair back from her face
she waded in,
inviting me to join her in the mud
and throw our joined-together weight
behind that wheel so firmly stuck.
At last it moved,
not quickly – sucking slowly from its place –
not up the road – but to the matt
of woven branches carefully laid – no longer stuck.
Once firmly set, she blocked its rearward roll
and warned, then pointed up ahead with smile
while wiping off her hands, the job well done,
‘The rest is yours’, slight gesturing with her chin
to toil beyond, ‘You know now what to do –
so set to work and build well up your way –
thus you should have less trouble on the trip.
We parted then, she off to free some other traveler
of our band, and I to take my axe and lay the first crude
boughs beneath my way where cart and life
would soon begin to roll once more.
New hope arose that once the left-wheel freed,
the right would eas'ly roll –
and not retard my progress