Strawberry Pickers, Nauvoo.
Eleven thousand years ago the last
glacier scraped through this field.
Transmuted by the new sun, struck
dumb with fear. When Joseph Smith
fell laughing to his knees before a pillar
of fire, his tongue swelling, his father
descended and spoke in a voice as cold
as the risen Sangamon Creek, saying
go home. Past noon, this basin of dirt
riddled with thick bloodless cracks.
A crop duster buzzes low overhead
to cough its toxic rain like a blessing
toward the dark corduroy of soybeans
to the west. Paint huffers straighten
on knee pads cut from vulcanized tires
and their pink-stained hands slow for
half a beat. Through the propped back
door of the school bus, popular music
washes over them, saying nothing
they haven't heard somewhere before.