Two Poems

For New Potatoes

Plow blade cuts back black-brown soil,
peeling upheaval.

Dad lets me drive the tractor
though I’m too young to walk the field
without falling.

He leans against the gray fender
to ride and guide me.

I twist to look into the
earth I’ve turned.
Worms’ gleaming bodies pull
quick out of sight.
Old roots jut like pale bone.

Dad tells me what lever to push
to lift the plow’s smooth tooth

and it shines.
That plow blade

Laying Pipe

clay consumes him
he’s up to his neck
coated in trench
mud stench
spattered clipboard in hand
standing on sand
to keep his steel-toed
boots from sticking

numbers crawl
out of the earth
he measures
cylindrical turquoise
faucet gray
hollow for your
morning sewage
bad black slinky
rainoff drainage
orange to hide
your optic wire

little man in
grave deep
concentration of silt
pressed like
pages of a history book
layers of salt
and vanilla
black bean roads
decades old brick

backhoe poised
above his hardhat
he waves denim arms
and the earth turns

 —Tad Phippen Wente, Port Washington, WI