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On Being A Farm Kid

Finalist, Wisconsin People & Ideas statewide poetry contest, 2007.

From six to thirteen, Mama drives you to school
with siblings banging lunch buckets, calling shotgun.
From fourteen to eighteen, you’re riding a yellow bus
of future farmers, homemakers, Marlboro men.

Who can recall their faces, the one who was gay,
the aromatic ones straight from milking
or slopping hogs? But you leave them
for mountain climbing, theater, jazz.

Perspective doesn’t know where you live yet,
only advertisers, the wallet starting to bulge
with memberships and plastic, promises of better
living through chemistry and mortgages—

you can’t Just Say No. At the travel agency,
you peruse how wild turkeys poke in the plowed
land, a skunk labors up and over each furrow,
and shadows lengthen over white-tailed does.

Rural Route One: a travel destination you think
unique and beautiful and fabulous. In the glossy,
light beckons a road with no end. Dutch elms
look fake, too tall, yet the canopy waves and

in the distance, your father walks toward you,
knuckles swollen, hands full of arrowheads.
Look what I found, he says, winded
from plowing, eyes wise, all of him avowed

to leave the earth the way he found it.