Ninety Years of Erosion

Face upturned, your downfall begins;
rivulets clear the fields for fresh weeds.
Young children, laughing, clasp dry sticks,
dragging through little dams of washed-down debris
that brace taut against the water’s hungry course.

Amid your slack folds of soft mud,
broken stalks dangle like legs in the current;
you hold them up as long as you can
beneath the shower that unclothes your bones.
On your flesh the wheel-ruts deepen under pelting rain.

The colts, unpenned to gallop,
leave hoofprints on the muddy slope.
Each year the tracks their heavier bodies wear
to and from the barns grow wider, deeper,
until the ground is clean and hard as cracked china.

Now the farm is sterile, empty.
From behind a locked white door
you listen to the whisper of summer running out
and watch everything wash away outside the window
until there’s nothing left of love. Somewhere
they conspire against you. Something is wrong.

—F.J. Bergmann, Poynette, WI