Such Fertile Land.
1. Janelle Stevens, home health aide, Oklahoma
It's far below our well the fractures split
the rock. The gas sucked up, the wasted
water spit back down--just like the kids
do the last slurp of Coke in their mouths,
in and out the straw. If there's a bit
of sweetness left, they'll find a way to taste it.
I scold or slap them on their heads
but they keep on. That nasty gurgling sound.
When the ground begins to move, Corrine calls
Mom, it's doing it again! Just keep
both feet on the floor, I say, it's not shaking hard.
It's only rocking us. Though not to sleep.
Together we watch as a few more apples
thud down from the tree in our yard.
2. Consuelo Ramos Garza, farmworker, California
Our well is dry. The tap gave sand, then air.
An hour away, the almond trees and cattle
and fields of corn still drink up and thrive
but in our comunidad we battle
the heat like dogs dumped out from passing cars.
Our bottled water's almost gone, so drive
your troubles somewhere else. We keep praying,
all day. Senor, te suplicamos. Que llueva,
que caiga del cielo, Padre, may it fall from the skies,
may your grace soak this dry earth, la tierra you gave us--
Another stray showed up last night. At first
he hung around the yard with those sad eyes,
triste como Jesus, then all night baying
as if he was in love. But it was thirst.
3- in an arroyo, western Nevada
When shuttered buds know
each dropped leaf breath
was swollen in flow
a different kind of
folded in brightness become
unshadowed heat break
Then your face
these hills daughter
Listen ghosted song
in our bones this place
once was now