CURRENT ISSUE (#50)
"More From the Plowman's Wife" and "Rancher's Lament"
by Casey Thayer
More From the Plowman's Wife
So hard he worked, my man became the field,
grew roots so deep his limbs spread forty acres
to the fence. I walked the sod that covered
his arms on Sunday mornings, peeled back
grass to watch worms dig out his lungs,
stripped hills to find his face. One fall day,
I buried my dog “Dog” in a copse of trees
wrapped around his feet. With nothing left,
I moved to Idaho in Illinois, a town
on the Mississippi where water
is steel-gray and swift, where currents echo
deep beneath me, deep beneath my bow.
I tattooed my skin with his skin. When I swim,
men follow me. They call me by his name.
Smoking could bring this shake to my skin.
Lord knows it’s not a woman. Haven’t touched
one since Santa Fe & don’t intend to.
Desert sky’s all broken yokes & sides
of beef, knolls cloaked in yellow jack
& heat, slowly killing the stock of cattle.
I save all I can. Stomp my boots through
the catclaw & muck of the riverbed,
string lines & lines of fence, barbs
to quarter the fields. If the canyon’s
lip is a path only asses follow,
I’ll follow it too, though I’m careworn,
choked by soil & chamomile if that tugs
at any tissues folded in your pockets.
Hammered clefts of silt-rock, a row
of thumbs. The desert leached, blasted
about by sand. Past Palo Duro, I pound
down another post for the barbwire,
clear to the hard clay two feet under
the topsoil. Cable hand-knotted & caught
with cotton from my clothes, a few
pricks of blood. It’s twisted around itself,
taut & set to snag cur-dogs, to screen
the she-wolves I won’t give up on.
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