The side of a barn says ABORTION KILLS.
I am near Holy Hill and the light here
bends slow around the double-wides and signs
for Phantom Fireworks and The Lion's Den.
Marsh sidles up to the road, and the cattails
hiss in the wind. They bend, broken and sweet.
Near my home there is a woods like this one:
where thin fog wreathes up and coats the poplars,
and bucks rake their racks on the bark-stripped trunks.
The clatter of antlers echoes at dusk.
I pass Cabela's. The giant deer points
nose-up and proud, and the semi-truck howl
curls round its twelve-foot motion-stopped front legs.
Winter is no less cold on its bronzed skin.
When the season opens these trees will fill
their roosts with birds of strange feather: orange
vests of polyester crinkle in the
northern breeze, their goose-shorn down a
lifting warmth for when all that's left is this:
bootprints in mud, and a cold, wet cornfield.
Push a trowel into the earth and all
you'll find are worms. Push a BB under
the skin and watch it revolve, orbital
as the joint of a hip bone, newly born.
In November I abandon the roads.
Far better to forget the uterine
outline of skull and rack, tooth and hoof, that,
when tied to a pickup truck roof, slowly
wink in the highway wind off 41.
Written upon being asked, "Do Wisconsinites eat anything except cheese?"
Polish sausage in the spring,
spiced and slippery with grease
that burns your tongue before
you get a chance to swallow.
Sweet corn barreled in bushels,
and baklava, yes, brushed in
ribbons of honey that
glow in the fading daylight.
Sodabread and shredded beef,
sauerkraut and brats with beer.
Cream puffs and crepes shoulder
up to soul food on Juneteenth.
August means sandia y
churros, the watermelon
wetness lapping up all
those sugary flakes on chins.
Fall is fry bread season here:
lumpy like the moon, it goes
with tiramisu, and
cannoli, and gefilte, too.
Maple syrup poured thick and
slow, over lingonberries
licked free of summer sap;
crunchy winter artichoke.
December, then: venison
drained in the garage rafters,
and one Korean pear,
round and full and supple, and—
—Bridget Apfeld, Wilmington, NC