1918 Huber Light Four

This poem by Linda Bierds was inspired by a Huber Light Four made entirely of wood.


| August 2015


To say that it glowed,
the tractor’s half-scale replica,
its twenty polished woods seamless and separate
as a tract of furrows filled with rain,

is to offer the finish before the start,
the worm before the jig. Yet to say late sun,
cast through the fair’s barn-turned-exhibition hall,
burnished it, as it burnished

the jars of yellow beets, shifts agency
to a higher power. Three years, the woodworker said,
two thousand hours drawing walnut’s brindled light,
and whatever light the willow offered,

the cedar and birch, the African mahogany.
Almost alchemy, how sanding transformed
wood to grain. Almost chemistry: friction, air,
vapors beneath the polish cloth—almost

complete combustion, the perfect half-scale whole of it
clean as the flames some candles offer. Though to say
that it drew from its absent shape,
as candles do, suggests a labor less touched

by time, or a time less touched by absence.
Hour by hour, something like harmony
passed through the room, while something like melanin rose in the model’s polished wood,