the malingerer

by stephen page

The gaucho who has not worked
For three months because of a nail
In his ankle, who has not lived
On the estancia since I became patrón,
Hobbled in behind me on one of my walking
Rounds. He hopped the front gate after I
Passed, limped and crouched along a high weed ditch, kept to
The shadows of the trees until I was safely away
From my ranchhouse and on my way
Out of the casco and on to paddock eight before he exposed
Himself and shuffle-skipped across my yard to knock
On the back door and ask my wife for his pay.

The Tattler says he never worked, laid animal traps,
Cut down Teresa’s lemon tree.