this man unembarrassed to pose for it.
This is what he cleared and furrowed,
as he struggled hard against the glacial tide.
This is the land he brought to life
despite thieving neighbors, swindling banks.
He was tough, sometimes callous and cruel,
uncomfortable around women,
but he always brought in the barley.
A lot of blood spilled here, a lot of oats sowed,
by that a bent-backed Millet figure,
a grandfather creased deep by sun,
down through the sweat of years –
now a ghost, a vacuum,
a character from an unread novel,
as each ownership thereafter
flutters in the weeds,
from the retreating dam
to the rusting machines
with harrowed hands like his
now soft as his heart
when he married.
Everything life required is done with,
and his spirit didn’t rise too far.
Don’t know if it’s lack of respect
as I roam these parched fields.
my thoughts good enough to be poems
but my industry anemic.
Time is a funeral parlor around here,
and all the coffins are full.
No more farmers in the family
but the land doesn’t look worried.
It’s been diced up.
It’s been taken apart.
Heritage is up to archaeologists now.
But look at my fingers.
Look at the land.
This rubble of rotting grain -
his descendants, my family.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.