Poetry ought to have a mother as well as a father.
The men are smoking Winstons, wearing work boots,
worn denim, deep calluses, their flannelled backs to the fire.
They are riding away on motorcycles, pulling up
in trucks – semis blare and brake – there they are
digging trenches, moving mountains, there again
heaving haybales, picking apples, building scarecrows.
In their shadows, we are slicing Granny Smiths,
baking apple crisp, sorting whites from dirt-caked blue
jeans, sweeping mud-crusted tread marks
out from under the rug. We kneel by porcelain
tubs and sinks, soak cornsilk blondes in Johnson’s soap,
kneel to tie a toddler’s shoes, kneel to wash
a Savior’s feet. Someone must prepare the table –
sweet rolls wait for butter, sweet corn waits for pepper.
A harvest meal by candlelight, we whisper
with each other, laugh, clink glasses and drink,
dishpan and callused fingers clasped.
Without this waltz – the way we circumnavigate –
Sun pulls earth pulls moon pulls earth pulls us –
there is only exhaust and straw, hard work and dust.