Old faithful


She’s standing in the yard: a runabout
Hitched to a feeder wagon. Grubby, old –
She’s twenty-five if she’s a day – and with
A million hours on her.
                                 She was mine
One sacred summer when we both were young:
Together we hauled ten-tonne loads of grain
And shifted straw-bales by the thousand, cars
Strung out behind us like a comet’s tail
Along the gasping lanes. Deep in the night,
We rolled beside the combine, halogen-
Lit like an offshore oil-rig, tawny ropes
Of wheat unwinding from the auger, down
Into the trailer’s famished metal mouth.
And I felt like a king, enthroned on that
Air-cushioned seat, my CB radio
A-crackle, Steve Earle in the tape machine,
Rear window open, orange warning light
Up on the roof: all any boy could want.
I took her home at lunchtime: parked her up
Outside my parents’ house, then swaggered in –
Her oil on my jeans, dust on my boots –
Ate fast and hurried out; just couldn’t wait
To fire up the diesel, go to work.

And after all these years, she is still here –
They couldn’t do without her now – while I
Roam, restless, heartsick, purpose still unclear
And dream of those lost days, that cloudless sky.

15 thoughts on “Old faithful

  1. Oh this fine verse made me want to move back to the western state I lived a few years back…helping a friend farm his land…driving one of his older tractors…I loved it! Thanks for the memories!

  2. Hi Nick

    The first and last poem I read today before I take the ferry, and it is lovely nostalgic, and romantic, “she was mine” 🙂 .

    My son has a red old tractor to move his chipshop every day. I don’t think he has those feelings for “her” as you have for this one here 🙂
    I know a farmer who does his grocery shopping by tractor!

    Have a good productive day! 🙂

    • I’m officially envious now, both of your son – why didn’t I get a job like that? – and the farmer who takes his Old Faithful to the shops. I’ve always said that if I ever win the lottery, I won’t buy a Ferrari or anything ridiculous like that; no, I shall be straight along to my local New Holland or John Deere dealer for the biggest and best they’ve got..! Hope you have a great day, too. N.xx

  3. Hurray! Another tractor poem! You are the master of this woefully-neglected genre!
    I can’t resist teasing you a little Nick, but seriously I thoroughly enjoyed the description here and, as Caddo Veil and Ina have said, it is romantic and nostalgic.

  4. Oh Nick, your yearning for your “love” is so evident here! I love this descriptive poem – I could feel and smell it all “Steve Earle in the tape machine” and the “CB radio A crackle” – wonderful nostalgia.

    I would offer you a ride on our tractor but I don’t think it would quite do the trick for you. It belongs to our 21 month old grandson and bought this Easter from Amazon. He’s very good at sharing though…:)

    Christine xx

    • I’m terrible at sharing – if I got my hands on his tractor, the poor lad would never see it again.

      You’ll be pleased to hear, I know, that my other on-board musical staple was The Eagles’ Greatest Hits: that summer I also taught myself to play guitar, and ‘Take It Easy’ (five chords – C, D and G major, E and A minor) was the first song I learned to play all the way through! Steve got the nod here, though, because I needed only two syllables: sadly ‘Copperhead Road’ (still a favourite album) has too many as well! N.xx

      • LOL 🙂 I would love to hear you play!!:)

        My son taught himself to play too; he was very much into “The Who” – consequently so was I having listened to it every day for ever!! I still miss those times – me shouting my head off telling him and his friends to keep it down, not everyone wants to listen to “Who” music at 3 oclock in the afternoon”!! Although I was actually enjoying it and now when I hear a “Who” track…”sniff, sniff” 🙂 xx

      • I don’t think Don Henley and Co have anything to fear from me…and I’d sooner listen to almost anything, The Who included, at 3pm than the drivel emanating from my 11-year-old daughter’s bedroom these days…lucky for her I’m a soft touch. And that she keeps the door closed. N.xx

  5. Ah Nick,

    I have been thoroughly enjoying this sequence of poems as they have passed through my inbox.

    You take me back to the days when I was living in a back-to-back cottage on a main road in a village in Airedale and your comrades were driving those tractors past my bedroom throughout the night. And leaving behind, of course, an unmistakeable aroma to greet me when I opened my door in the morning to walk to work.

    Good memories.

    Thank you my friend


    • How lovely to hear from you, David – trust the painting is going well! Thank you for keeping up-to-date with my stuff; it’s all got a bit nostalgic lately; something to do with the time of year, perhaps. And judging by your comment, you’d find the rich farmyard scents wafting over the fields round us today very familiar…my best to you, as ever. N.

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