Twenty moves in eight years,
one step ahead of the rent collector.
Kitchen table, coal scuttle, wash tub
tumbled into the back of the rusted truck
with the three little girls. Honey, the baby,

sits on her mama’s lap in the cab.
Now, at last, their own place.
Narrow, unpainted house leans
like a bad tooth. Swallows swoop
through the gaps between barn boards.

But the fields –sweet, rolling.
Dirt so rich you want to eat it.
That first corn crop, greenest he’s ever seen,
marching away from where he stands
on a rise, shading his eyes with his hand.

Listen, he says, if you listen real close
you can hear the corn grow. And you can.
A whisper like silk tearing, fibers parting,
as the stalks stretch for the sun. In the brilliant sky,
crows congregate, eyeing his corn below.

Damn thieves! he says. But he won’t
go back to the house for his shotgun.
He remembers his mother asking,
Don’t shoot the crows, Ord.
They’re the only birds I can still hear.


Copyright ©2010 by Kathleen Kramer, from her book Boiled Potato Blues.
All rights reserved.
Posted with kind permission of the poet.