[pastoral for the aughts]

Charity Ketz

The boy at the plow knows the word                    that opens through all its frame, the seed                    now left and lodged in broken rowsof old success gone lovely—that place for cranes to nest and feed by pools reflecting                    blue and stubble turned undersome blade-wrenched root. Now                    crows come, and now the coldspreads around its presence too, lays out its feathery                    sheet and holds. The seed explodes                    at the appointed time, which comes, perhapsto cold-worked dirt                    that would inert its threadlike                    seeking for depths to raiseand lose its flag of selfin season. He's young and goes out singing. Goes out                    cursing, for many thingsdon't seem altogether                    impossible, thoughthe hush light, the acrid swallow, the smaller ills                    and dim triumph, yes,he enjoys. Still the blue sky widens out and out,                    and he hearshis heart, quiet as a pebble, or struggled                    on its line. In the neighbor's den,he tells friends that sex should be                    accompanied bythe gift of the life, the marriage. Some will                    snort and pass him a beer, somegirls move close because they want                    to touch his hair. Here it is, someversion of the life, caught in its going                    around the room.Or he bears the thing, shrugs them                    off and smiles staring downas though this field will show blue                    too when its furrows mud and thaw.Year by year, to someone it seems, one sows,                    another rips away,the very fiber and warm spine of the thing—To another, there's more                    left in the hand likea word, however moving under skies it's heard.

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Charity Ketz’s first book of poetry, The Narcoleptic Yard, was runner-up for the Hudson Prize in Poetry (Black Lawrence Press, 2009). She holds an MFA in poetry from Cornell University (2004) and a PhD in literature from UC Berkeley (2017). She currently teaches composition and creative writing at Penn State University in State College, PA.

Cover of Carolina Quarterly Winter 2021

Winter 2021 70.2

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

UNC Chapel Hill

Ellie Rambo

Poetry Editor
Colin Dekeersgieter

Managing Editor
Amy Chan

The Carolina Quarterly publishes a variety of poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, and artwork twice a year and is distributed to readers locally and to individual subscribers, public and university libraries, and bookstores in the United States and worldwide. Back issues are sold throughout the year. Free online access to the full-text of our current and back issues is available through the academic databases, EBSCO and ProQuest.

The Carolina Quarterly has been publishing established and emergent writers for 65 years. Recent issues have featured the works of Lauri Anderson, James Gordon Bennett, Megan Mayhew Bergman, Sean Bishop, Nicole Terez Dutton, Aaron Gwyn, K.A. Hays, Caitlin Horrocks, Stuart Nadler, Ben Purkert, Valerie Sayers, Ken Taylor, Matthew Volmer, G.C. Waldrep, Jerald Walker, and more. Pieces published in The Carolina Quarterly have appeared in New Stories from the South, Best of the South, Poetry Daily, O. Henry Prize Stories, The Pushcart Prizes, and Best American Short Stories.

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