Lynne Burnett

Issue #
October 3, 2017

Always, In Returning

Always, in returning to the house of my farm-grown summers,

I come home to the wild oat, the whole grain of me. Riding bareback

again through the fields of a long-ago self, who I was rises golden

and green in a warm wind:

                                                Bud hasn’t gone crazy yet. Audrey

and Rose still live. The hayloft babies are hiding in the rafters

of first love, waiting to be born. The lake’s so deep you can swim

one step out from the bouldered shore.

                                                                 Blind Grandpa keeps

his pockets full of change. Cackling, he leans on his cane, throwing

every quarter-nickel-dime onto the ground. He listens as we fall

upon them like scrabbling crows. Gran scolds but he never stops

making us rich.

                               Dad shows Bob and I at 5:00 a.m. how to hook

a worm (I’ve been saving them from a dry street death ever since).

Later Gran, with a shake and quiver of strong, baggy arms, scales

and cleans eight small bass in the kitchen sink.

                                                                                 Uncle Jim drives

his tractor in a pressed white shirt. I slip out the door, running past

rabbit-friendly trees to hide among sky-driven stalks. Lying down,

I press my body into sweet conversation with the earth. Here, no

machinations of the soul, just secrets told, flitting like fireflies

through branches of maple, alder, birch.

                                                                       Who I became is the land

that grew them—a defiant wave of long grass beside a paved road,

a wealth of open sky, water deep enough for a man to drown in,

the flickering light that might save him.

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