The Measure of the Year

By James Galvin b. 1951 James Galvin
A canoe made of horse ribs tipped over in the pasture.
Prairie flowers took it for a meetinghouse.
They grow there with a vengeance.

Buck posts float across the flooded swamp
Where my father rode in and under.
Different horse.

He held her head up out of the mud
And said how he was sorry
Till they came to pull him out.

We found the white filly
On the only hard ground by the south gate.
He said she’d been a ghost from the start and he was right.

We covered her with branches.
There were things he had the wrong names for
Like rose crystals. Though

They were about what you’d think from a name like that.
He told us somewhere on Sand Creek Pass
Was a crystal that spelled our own initials

And we should try to find it.
We walked through sagebrush and sand currents, looking.
He said pasqueflowers and paintbrush

Wait till Easter to grow,
Then they come up even with snow still on the ground.
I thought I’d seen that happen.

James Galvin, “The Measure of the Year” from Resurrection Update: Collected Poems 1975-1997. Copyright © 1997 by James Galvin. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press,

Source: Resurrection Update (Copper Canyon Press, 1997)

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Poet James Galvin b. 1951

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Pets, Activities, Jobs & Working, Nature

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 James  Galvin


James Galvin is the author of several collections of poetry, including Resurrection Update: Collected Poems, 1975–1997 and X (2003); a novel, Fencing the Sky (1999); and The Meadow (1992), a prose meditation on the landscape of the Wyoming-Colorado border and the people who live there.

Galvin’s work is infused with the genuine realities of the western landscape, while at the same time not shirking difficult questions of faith, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Pets, Activities, Jobs & Working, Nature

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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