|Jan/Feb 2011 Poetry|
The Gentlemen Farmers
Fierce handshakes and firm hangovers—
their strength is the silence of agriculture
in decline: a tractor trashed
by a pothead cousin, waiting stubbornly
for repairs that are too expensive
to imagine. These are the lives
of those who have stayed in a town that has grown
too large for their vision of rural innocence.
They shop at Costco, go downtown for sushi,
work as the lawyers they ache to stop being
at harvest time, or when the wind
is patient enough to allow for spraying.
Guilt at stray marriages dogs them, a distant
and disobedient barking: the protest
of springtime's desires, content to go hunting
for scraps at the neighbors'. A party is starting
someplace, much too early, and lunch is served late.
The kids skip their naps, then skip town on an urge
to emulate what they're escaping.
The night air intoxicates, rotten with pollen;
the meth labs work overtime, too ripe for sleeping.