Clutch

2010 Runner Up

In the spring, my father had a black thumb
and too many blisters. Pear blossoms
and new tomato worms kept him busy. He cared
for the land like a newborn, rising early each morning
to make coffee in the fog. When the chickens were found,
bloodless, with soft feathers and snapped necks,
the hole in the coop was repaired, a new one
made in the soil of the orchard. He grew wary
of permanence.                                      Late summer,

you and I served our time among
the lettuce heads, the sunflowers,
and dying okra. We pretended nothing but this
had ever existed, that instead of a town
in the marshlands or a town
in the foothills, this same earth
was where we slept.     Behind us

in the field, my father picked
basket after basket of fiery peppers.
It rained, or the sprinklers
came on, and we let the water soak
our shirts and thirsty skin. The new chickens
huddled together against the wet,
a gently clucking mass of feathers,
bits of corn.

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