Tilling Winter Rye

3_Whispers_Urgent_As_Neon_.jpgThe 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.