Farm Poem #14

Spring brings more than can be—
Blossoms melting into soil,
Seedlings crowding for sunshine.
I find the lamb
By the broken wall,
Abandoned or lost or both,
Castaway quadruplet,
Victim of abundance.

How his tail shakes
As he takes the bottle,
Sucking the milk dry.
Amongst the flush of
Chickweed he is sated,
And curls close to my boot,
Self-adopted in the April sun.
Life wishing to live.

Some people believe in death!
The lamb naps while
I nudge a walnut hull,
Last autumn’s spring,
A sphere of tree.
Who could fathom such a thing?
Within the cathedral of my legs,
The lamb is already dreaming.

Farm Poem #13

Soft, the snow of blossoms
Petaling the walkway,

The wake of a wedding train
Purling the soldier course,

Color, forsythian fireworks,
Redbuds frothy, raspberry frappe

Bronchioles of lilac
Sighing scent

Dogwood baby’s breath
In the foreground afterthought

And there, bifurcated gardeners,
Cattle tearing the soil

In great calamitous chunks,
Dirt-eaters, stone-lickers,

Rooting their skulls against
The raw ground

Until their faces grow masked
With slick clay,

Bacchanal, fierce, eruptive,
Pawing pasture to pieces

Scraped skyward only to fall
On spines, scapulae,

Raising their tails,
Jetting fecund streams of

Feces, flung far,
As far as far,

Splattering and splashing
Leaves and grass,

Ignoring the flowers
And gorging instead

On violets, dandelions,
Garlic mustard with

Phosphorescent blossoms,
Lessons their mothers taught

Them long ago about,
What, precisely, was what.

How now, apple cow?

Farm Poem #12

“See,” I say excitedly,
Observing it myself
For the first time,
“That pear is pear-shaped!”
It’s April, and wild pears are
Burst into blossom—
Corpulently conical,
Sveltely plump—
Ovoid and, devoid of negative space,
As perfectly pearish as their fruit.

She can’t see it, however.
“You mean the trees?” she asks,
Seeing through the flowers
To the barely visible trunks and limbs.
But I can’t know this. So we go,
Back and forth to Culpeper,
So close to communicating.
It’s only when I demonstrably
Gesture the form into shape
That her eyes ignite with understanding.

It’s no surprise, then, is it,
When, working old floor boards
A week later, I ask her for
The digging iron, or pry bar,
—appellations via applications—
And she responds by saying,
“Oh, you mean the big nail!”
I’m instantly smitten,
For it is a big nail,

And for the first time
I see it too;
See how I didn’t
See it before,
See how I couldn’t;

See, as I am able,
How much is
Boldly hiding
In the bright blue light
Of a spring afternoon.

Farm Poem #11

Ovid tells the story of Cyparissus,
A boy who carelessly killed his beloved
Stag and, heartbroken by its death,
Mourned himself into a cypress.

I, too, was that child at age nine,
Extracting an arrow from a guinea fowl
Which, moments earlier, had been cackling
Warnings from a walnut branch.

If I could have metamorphosed into wood
I would have; believing—not believing—
The arrow would penetrate;
I scrubbed the bloody shaft against the dark soil,

And confessed, the instant my parents arrived home,
My shame. So when I heard, thirty-five years later
That our prized ram had been gut-shot,
Twenty yards from a neighboring deer-stand,

A slow death, hooves carving
Figure eights in the dusty loam,
I thought of a boy in a tree,
His finger on the trigger as the ram grazed near,

Nearer, wondering what happens next,
Wondering, how the entry wound could
Be as small as a thumbnail, innocuous,
Yet the exit the width of his fist;

Wondering, when the light faded matte
In the white ram’s eyes, unblinking,
How he might grieve his way, forever,
Into the closest, deepest, blackest woods.

Farm Poem #10

We notice the obvious,
Ostentatious: the seam in the beam
In the barn is flagitiously askew,
Nine hundred pounds of hanging death.

That’ll get our attention!
On a farm where we patch it and prop it,
Forever a rend to mend,
We’ll fix it, yes—lest two centuries

Of brick and mortar and timber
Come rumbling tumbling down. Naturally.
To build up, however, we must
Build down. We dig.

Manure, more manure, manure more,
Clay, stones, subsoil, where, near bottom,
The shovel tinks a single glassy note
And in the shadows I spy the bottle,

Buried how long, this deep,
Below the sun, the frost-line, our
Reasonable expectations?
Hold it against the sky.

Oh, bottle! We know you instantly.
Corked with corrosion,
Filled with murky liquid,
While others speculate

—Is it bromide? Whiskey? Iodine?—
We don’t have to guess;
We’ve been waiting to pay attention,
Distracted entire lifetimes,

Promised that this jewel,
If properly polished,
Will perfume the air with smoke, and
Someday soon, someday will at last arrive.