I leave the yard in the August dawn.
Gun the knocking Rambler up the driveway.
Only the horses notice, nodding their noses
over the twisted planks of the pasture fence.
Potato fields stretch from the road to the mountains.
A dark, ripe green you can almost taste.
In a month the tops will be killed. Lie burnt
and lifeless, ready for digging.
Seven miles from farm to town.
We rode in the back. Would close our eyes,
chant the route, yell it into the wind,
voices of girls who were not afraid:
Uncle Robbie’s, Ryan Creek, First Rockslide, Curve
by the Slough, Miller Creek, Uncle Morgan’s
Double Turn, Lundgren’s, Taylor’s Corner,
Second Rockslide, Stop Sign in Front of the Bank, Town.
By ’68 I’m ready to go. Work the early shift at the hotel.
Buy myself Judge Decker’s car, after he dies.
And one October day, the cottonwoods alight,
drive south on 99, past the fields, the river,
aching mountains, the blackbirds in the green gage.
I don’t know then, but the place will follow me:
old dog who won’t turn back.
From Four Small People in Sturdy Shoes (Hot Tomato Studios, 2013).
Used here with the author’s permission.