Unable to stand in our hillside orchard,
too weak to swing a mattock or to wrestle
with dirt, my dad wants to plant peach trees.
For him, I tear the earth open.
Rocks bleed out from the poor mountain soil,
and I unwrap swaddled peach roots.
Before I scrape the dirt back and tamp it down,
I return the largest rock under the young roots,
a surrogate for what I fear. I bury it back,
imagine the roots encircling the rock,
enclosing it, building from its foundation.
Like the hard stone buried in the sweetest fruit.
Slick with summer, my father’s cattle lumber
over hills, their rounded bellies full of grass
and unborn calves. They watch as I follow
fence lines, wonder how the strong barbed
wire breaks, how the briar hells overtake
once clean rows. I hack the blackberries
and the wild rose, patch the strands of wire
the way my father taught me. I cut cedar
saplings at their base, clear the pastures
of fallen tree limbs. Of cow bones, too--
unburied by wild dogs and packs of coyotes
that howl in the night—hungering for flesh,
finding all that’s left is bone.
On the Other Side of Wilderness
We lowered our heads
in sorrow and disappeared
into the tall woods
without hatchet or arrows.
We taught ourselves to not leave
tracks among the pine
needles and stinging nettles,
learned killing a wolf
brought revenge from other wolves.
We learned to taste disease.
Venus will reign in the sky.
On the other side
of wilderness, we will see
that last year’s sorrows belong
to last year, that we’re
embryo inside acorn,
wind inside the wind.
And earth’s dirt—through dark and damp--
will be more garden than grave.
Denton Loving is the author of the poetry collection Crimes Against Birds (Main Street Rag, 2015) and editor of Seeking Its Own Level, an anthology of writings about water (MotesBooks, 2014). Follow him on twitter @DentonLoving.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.