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Gleaners in Smoldering Fields


Wife bends in the field at midday,
back flashing pain, weathered hands sifting soil
before eyes hungry for a ripe grain head.
Apron fold is nearly slack, few seeds
survive the impact, the blackening touch.

Son squats nearby, scanning for wild grasses
among the scorched rows. Guitar fingers
pick morsels from the handful of hot rocks.
Sack bears little weight, but gains by singles,
the leavings of the last great storm.

Feed them, land of grand meals!
Feed them on your aerial flags,
your Sunday pundits and revelations!
Cultivate life in these rows you’ve burned,
singing praise of ancient promises!

Mother sits on stones, row’s end
her domain, spying tiny treasures –
enough for cookies this year?
Eyes clearing through ashen veil she repeats
the toil of her mother in a fiery new time.

I stretch back on chopping hoe
to gain an hour’s work from failing bones,
rubbing soot with the swipe of a sleeve.
I remember the promise of vine and fig tree,
clearing my throat of a new day’s dust.

This poem is from my collection — The End of an Ordinary Life — available now in eBook and paperback formats. WINNER, 1st Prize in Poetry, Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook, 2017