The Mad Farmer and the Crop Duster

by Yvonne Osborne

I own a slope of stones,
we dig them singing out of their dark places
and pile them in the sun.

Rocky ground is fertile ground
and I’ve been left this slope of stones
to rake and cultivate and with each
spring when the crop dusters lace their boots
we sketch our plans for this garden ground
and pencil in the seeds we’ll plant
and unfurl the row covers to guard against drift.

With each passing fall when weeds grow tall
and the crop duster flies over the trees like a yellow
bumblebee we amend our maps and scratch our plans
for along this creek wild raspberries grow with
briar and burr and the damnable thistle
which can’t be let to flower
so we chop off their heads with a shovel
as the yellow gnat in the sky swoops over the trees
and drops its load on a neighboring field
while we sweat in the sun to embrace the old ways.

But roots run deep along this glacier’s path
and they flourish and grow and outflank us,
caught between rocks and a booted throttle,
and the hopeful plans drawn up in spring
are filed away in a drawer come fall.

I own a slope of garden ground
seeded with stones by sliding ice,
stones that plague us but don’t outwit us
for with winter’s cold-drawn face,
the garlic and shallots are planted deep
and we pray the Lord the crop duster take
and the stones rest cold in their pile and don’t sing.

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