Monday, April 28, 2014

Long-Legged Spider Keeping Up

Of a deeper color than jade
is the pond by the road,
cupped between spring-forested hills
in Michigan, where I pay rent now,
and I would give my jade
and my emeralds, if I still had them,
to belong to these hills and to this pond
or to the fruit of the trees.

I belong only to the road:
each cornfield I drive by cuts neat rows,
even-measured furrows into me, running
endlessly beside me, like a long-legged spider
that barely, mercilessly, keeps up.
And I ache for a home
that I never was born to, for a country
where I never belonged,
homesick for a people whose language
I understood but could never speak without
an accent--
a moth forbidden
from crawling back to its chrysalis.

Beneath the corn and the soy is the soil
I call mother, in whose warm muddy realness
I dream of immersing myself,
hogs and Holsteins lazing over me,
spread open to the unobstructed Iowa sky--
in Minnesota or Illinois, in Wisconsin or Missouri,
somewhere just off I-80 or I-94,
not farther than you'd drive for a fill-up or for
2 for $2 bratwurst

becoming, finally, one of a million farms,
each unique yet indistinguishable among
the million--and all the shame
of realizing I have no use for their uniquenesses
gone with my face, gone with my name.

I love her like no one else could,
this placid mother
who turns her tits to face her litter,
all born knowing how to suck,
while I stare at her spine and wonder
how I never learned this trick,
this skill that automatically comes with being human,
a buy-one-get-one-free at the Farm
and Fleet. I don't think
these softball-dusted girls, these sunburnt
boys in white t-shirts, know her face--
too busy sucking to look up. But I

have spent--oh, decades now--
imagining what her face might look like
if she smiled on me. And if I had money I could buy
a John Deere tractor, but I could not
turn myself into one.

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