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Russell Libby


Fair Trade

Day after the Fair,
Peter sits at a small anvil set in a stump,
hammering a keen edge on a scythe blade,
teaching the art of patience,
tying action and tools together.

His truck fails, but a solution is at hand.
He exchanges scythe and snath for water pump,
another for its installation.

As the mechanic leans into the engine,
he shakes the sheepbells hanging from the truck rack.
The ringing brings Peter back to the mountains of Slovakia,
where each flock was tuned differently
by scattering mixes of bell sizes and shapes within the flock.

To adjust the song with new bells,
you walk down the mountain,
take a bus to the village where the bellmaker lives,
place your order, and go away.
Come back in a month or so.
Only that patience creates a new melody.

At night your flock's song played fast was a warning,
alerting the shepherd to changes;
played slowly as the sheep grazed,
all's well.

down from the mountains,
the shepherds were musicians,
trying to recapture the songs of bells
moving through moonlit pastures.


Full Day

Morning, two lambs tottering, still wet.

Afternoon, lobbyists line up,
emphasizing costs to their clients of telling us what we eat.

Evening, plant seeds to show faith and control over future.


Russell Libby lives on Three Sisters Farm in central Maine. He tries to capture activities at the farm and in the larger world around. He has published recently in a number of New England poetry journals.
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