It figures that your mother was a mail-order
bride: Brooklyn Girl Marries Kansas Farmer —
that you and your new father didn’t speak
for six years. “Tell her to pass
the mashed potatoes” — that the farm dusted over
bad and you sat in it for summers before it grew

back. But you accepted it, grew
used to the older step brothers and sister ordering
you around until you ran off and got over
it in the only tree for miles, watching some farmer
turn the late stubble to dust. It wouldn’t pass.
This father wouldn’t speak.

But one day he got the horse to speak,
dragging it to death behind the truck. You grew
as other animals died. Your rabbit, Pinky, passed
like this: the cat bit off its head. Order
restored that night, the stiff-jawed farmer
said, “Pass the rabbit,” as the skies slid over

prop drones then webs of vapor trails, over
the dust that never settled, the catbird that spoke
all night. For years the short, burned sons of farmers
around you married daughters who knew their language, grew
their children young. For you the orders
stopped. You stuck by your mother as she passed

her arms through rooting pigs until the pain passed
from work that never fit. Years later, over
Kansas backroads, you returned and found order
in the rafters of your attic, chickens speaking
through carcasses of rabbits. This grew.
Once you returned to a chinchilla farm,

fur balls scratching sand around your bed. Forms
darker than rusting sheds followed summers, passing
beyond where you drove the tractor, monotony grooving
the sun away in wind that didn’t quit in over-
cast or gullies scorched to cracking. Speaking
his first words to you, that Father ordered

more than you could take. So you left the farm,
hopped in a pink ’57 Chevy and passed
from him and the world until you grew.


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