The farmers take one look at my hands and know
any harvest I touch will taste of soap
and ruin a thousand beers.
I’ve never held acreage,
churned forage into thawing soil
and felt how little the earth changed beneath me.
Silage means nothing
unless the cultivation breaks you—
the only truth worth its salt
is how a man stands against the wind
as the gods of Nebraska throw punches.
The pasture eventually opens us all like a wound.
It’s surprising how easy it is
to pretend I understand, to heft the mattock
and act like the digging means something.
But then I unearth deer mice
nursing pups in the thresher’s wake,
violets in places bulbs were never planted,
the corpse of an oak tree, field crickets
in the frozen heartwood, still singing.