Wheels and Time
June 1977

“Wheels and Time,” Ensign, June 1977, 52

Wheels and Time

Beneath the new-leafed cottonwoods,

Forgotten, lichen-covered, age-greying,

A wagon wheel on a broken axle

Slants into the stream.

The worn iron rim, long rusted,

Catches, swirls the water in silent eddy,

Trapping leaves, water skippers, wild rose petals,

Churning the flotsam like yesterday’s dust

When they walked beside the wagon,

Marking the hours of the day by the turning of the wheel;

Watching the dust puff up—

Riding the rim, drifting back—

Swelling to waist-high waves,

Billowing on the prairie wind;

Where rain-soaked, bone-weary they bent, braced,

Helped the jaded team drag out the buried wheels, and sighed,

Straightening slowly, as the wheels clutched,

Caught the strength of sage root, buffalo grass, buckweed;

And they walked westward, always westward,

Sunset in their faces,

Until finally they followed the wheel track

Through the fresh-fallen snow, the chilling mountain wind,

Into the shrouded valley below—


Today the wheel leans in shadowed coolness,

Water-washed, time-washed, trapping rose petals,

Leaning quietly in the late afternoon sun,

Churning the flotsam, awaiting tomorrow’s dust.