(for Laura Ingalls Wilder)
I walk on snow that has never been walked on before
and only my tracks follow me.
My family legally owns this ground
but I fear what’s underneath.
There is no road, no featherstitches of birds
or blurry spots where rabbits have hopped.
Just snow, which softens a little on the southern and western slopes
to resemble clear, smooth, clean glass.
The glass of slow coaches invented by the invisible
to bring beggars of the sea to their rendezvous —
Grandfathers who struggled to persuade so perished,
strung up in public squares, submerged in unmarked graves.
The price you pay to prefer songs of beauty and cruelty —
the music of Pan to that of Christ.
I struggle to grow gentle, quiet and patient,
to hear the whine of sap rise in trees,
To hear seeds of weeds, thistle and vine,
which wait their turn to desolate the fields.
Each year, they conspire to make our spring’s yield low
and our expenditures high.
Day after day, everything grows
except for me. For me, nothing seems to change.
At least, my foot aches less
and, at last, I hardly limp at all.
I hobble to the barn, where wooden buckets
swing from huge iron hooks, fastened to crossbars.
Thump, thud, clickety-clack.
A gale sends shivers through the open door.
Every potato winks back
with small dent-like menacing eyes.
Our treasured colt stands alone, vulnerable.
Just one mistake will ruin him.
The pigs grunt, cows moan and sheep bleat.
I’m big and bright enough to take care of them.
But I wonder: Will I ever be big enough to have whatever I want?
Will I grow free and independent so no one can to tell me to come or go?
Not today. I know better. I must not speak
at the table unless spoken to.
Not today, it’s Sunday. I’m not allowed to work or play.
Instead, there’s church and time allotted to sit still and celebrate what is so.
Paul Brucker, a marketing communications writer, lives in Mt. Prospect, IL, “Where “Friendliness is a Way of Life.” Active in the early 1980s Washington, D.C, poetry scene, he put a lid on poetry writing when he went to the Northwestern University grad ad school to learn how to think like a businessman and secure a decent income. Nevertheless, he has succumbed to writing poetry again. He has been published recently in The Coffin Bell, Prachya Review, The Bangalore Review, monthstoyears and The Pagan’s Muse: Words of Ritual, Invocation and Inspiration.