After Fighting for Hours, by Kate Gleason

When all else fails

we fall to making love,

our bodies like the pioneers

in rough covered wagons


whose oxen strained to cross the Rockies

until their hearts gave out trying,

those pioneers who had out-survived

fever, hunger, a run of broken luck,


those able-bodied men and women

who simply unlocked the animals

from their yokes, and taking

the hitches in their own hands, pulled

by the sheer desire of their bodies

their earthly goods over the divide.

From “The Best American Poetry 1997" edited by James Tate; David Lehman, series editor. (Scribner: 269 pp., $13) Copyright 1997 Reprinted by permission.