Always, in returning to the house of my farm-grown summers
I come home to the wild oat, the whole grain of me. Riding bareback
again through the fields of a long-ago self, who I was rises golden
and green in a warm wind:
Bud hasn’t gone crazy yet. Audrey
and Rose still live. The hayloft babies are hiding in the rafters
of first love, waiting to be born. The lake’s so deep you can swim
one step out from the bouldered shore.
Blind Grandpa keeps
his pockets full of change. Cackling, he leans on his cane, throwing
every quarter-nickel-dime onto the ground. He listens as we fall
upon them like scrabbling crows. Gran scolds but he never stops
making us rich.
Dad shows Bob and I at 5:00 a.m. how to hook
a worm (I’ve been saving them from a dry street death ever since).
Later Gran, with a shake and quiver of strong, baggy arms, scales
and cleans eight small bass in the kitchen sink.
Uncle Jim drives
his tractor in a pressed white shirt. I slip out the door, running past
rabbit-friendly trees to hide among sky-driven stalks. Lying down,
I press my body into sweet conversation with the earth. Here, no
machinations of the soul, just secrets told, flitting like fireflies
through branches of maple, alder, birch.
Who I became is the land
that grew them—a defiant wave of long grass beside a paved road,
a wealth of open sky, water deep enough for a man to drown in,
the flickering light that might save him.
This poem first appeared in the Taos International Journal of Poetry and Art in July, 2017. Deep thanks to then-editors Veronica Golos and Catherine Strisik for selecting it.