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The Movers

Text of Poem

The east wind whips the skirts of the snow
with a passing shower,
and over Iowa on the first of March
wheels churn hub-deep in the mud
or grit their teeth across the icy roads.

Home is only a shadow
flying down the wind in a
twisted swirl of snowflakes,
traveling down the road in an old lumber wagon
drawn by two shaggy horses
whose bones are too big for their flesh.

Even the wild goose
is not so homeless as these movers.
Peering ahead through the sliding curtain
of March rain they pass
with the furniture of home packed in a wagon.
Past corner, past grove to the hilltop they go
until only chair legs point from the skyline
like roots of trees torn from the earth.
And they are gone.
This, the parade of the landless, the tenants,
the dispossessed,
out of their Canaan they march
with Moses asleep in the Bible.

Who will call them back, who will ask:
are you the chosen people, do you inherit
only a backward glance and a cry and a heartbreak?
are you the meek?
But the early twilight
drops like a shawl on their shoulders
and sullen water
slowly fills the wagon ruts and the hoofprints.

First Line
The east wind whips the skirts of the snow
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
1937
Original Citation
American Prefaces 2 (Summer 1937) 165.
Republication
Complete Poems
26
Hearst Collections
Word Count
206
Poetic Form
open
Observations
Iowa specifically mentioned as the setting in this poem
Themes
Twitter Quote
Peering ahead through the sliding curtain / of March rain they pass / with the furniture of home packed in a wagon.