Oregon Trail (1992)
Couldn’t fathom more than arranging verdant data left
by predecessors so, like windturbines hurling theoretical money from thick nothing,
every field I built was built-in.Intrinsic. Splintering at angles seraphs of my own invention
couldn’t concoct, land blackenedand curled into embryos often small as commas, soft cavities
in enamel I surely tunneledby microhost via excess saccharine—laughable
to think them more capableof scope. From the screened-in where I live, I assess
the withering, crops pixelated togreen block then green block then brown, inevitable
downgrade, but given the limitsof this sparse domain, to reappraise would be to terminate
the deft work of handsthat handed me my own hands and in me the land breeds
something other, detectablein vibration alone, retrievable by neither oxen nor pack
expansion. In fewer words,I didn’t want to go. Paths warp around my tantrum
of earth, worthless, like a toothin totality, my steel pick, a talon plunging dark into
gum, never fully musclingto reveal the bloody root despite the countless mouths
of every stranger glancing ‘crossmy own face at the general store that pull and twist. Ask me
how to use a hacksaw and I’llcompose you a manual. Load what I know. Go. No,
you. To the field, I knowI but blindly gloss over failed genetic code glitching
land to glare, loosed from monitorto hand and anyway, the fields are full of holes. I’m only
ill in a transactional sense. Noobject will hold me. To a plot no sojourner could recall, I
throw seeds, and History isn’t eveninvented yet. From my screen porch crook I hang up the bits
though no grim pearl lies waitingfor either dentist tool or capsule collateral to pry life from a jaw
steeled, but I’ll tell you this: Once,rain appeared as if out of nowhere, a pop up on the land, thick lines
countable, impossibly blue,an upright collision to my horizontal tilling. Like a flash of plus signs,
I thought maybe I’d won something.
Copyright © 2018 by Ellen Boyette
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
We desire a self-confident degree of alchemy.
We value density.
We back the materiality of language.
When in the field, language does gallop and snort.
Its rest need be fitful.
The poem that sleeps sleeps on its feet.
Language crafts its blueprint poem to poem.
There are no gold coins on the map; they must be forged by the poet.
To invent is to invent one’s construct, to stitch a flag from the void.