[pastoral for the aughts]
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.
Copyright © 2021 by Dave Harris.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
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.
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.