Lamoille Country Field Day
by Katy Didden
Clouds over the valley like a low-sky lid
slid shut, and the air compressed there
to mist, amidst which the citizens of Lamoille
stream over the green fields in slickers.
They crowd the midway, huddle into sheds,
and stand in long lines for ice cream, maple flavor,
and the sap’s inside them—sucking spigots all their lives,
they grow lean and blonde, and matter-of-fact.
From the bright square of light just inside the barn door,
the Craft Show cashier looks out at the crowd
through thick-lensed glasses on which the mist
has dried not quite invisibly, so everything she sees
blurs gently, and the youngsters glow in small haloes
of heat. They gather round, waist-high to a volunteer,
who fills ten baby bottles with whole milk,
and fastens a rubber nipple to each cap. Above them all,
out across the field, the fog stalls at the foothills—
the gray arm of a farmer scattering tiny seeds of water,
which saturate the air and, under the pavilion,
curl the thinning hair of the hypnotist who breathes
“Relaaax” into a mic and snaps, so that a rugged man
on stage, counting to ten, omits the six, and curtsies
at the crowd before he sits. And while the girls race,
swigging the milk through pinholes in the nipples,
the giant Belgian horses chew clean through the red fence
that corrals them, and the cashier slips out the back of the barn
and wanders behind the white tents, to the farthest fencepost
where the field dips down toward the Gihon and she can see
the fog where it reaches up to the ghost-height
of the ice, eons ago, that shaped this place and packed
the soil into a fertile valley. And the fog! it looks so lovely
where the foothills knit a shawl of air and rain, a little wind
threading in a fringe, and the mist collects in droplets
on her glasses until she sees the whole world full of water.
O fog above which we can’t see, the gentle edge against
our wandering, transfiguring the air so what was always there
becomes a place the mind swims through to where the world
shines, new in its emerging: strange, dark-stained, and suckling.
by Julia B.C. Germaine
kept crickets in small gold cages
to remind themselves
of their own predicament
The cricket is not afraid to think about what his life is missing.
He’s got a cello-shaped
hole in his soul the size of god.
He laments nightly,
the myth goes,
a string section bowed over the baseboard thumping:
will you walk away from the bowmen of Shu, guarding the hutch
of a city? After the arrows have dug out their graves,
the bowmen retire to cots, reach under, stick a finger
through the bars of a small gold cage
having killed all day
under armor rubbing in dangerous places.
The cricket rubs dangerously: a baseline, a ticking, a rattle
three weeks before he’s dead on his back in a gilded prison,
under a metal bed smelling of semen,
leather, and dust. The cricket wilts
like grass, browning in the slats of a sidewalk.
He’s got a thirst for bourbon
on the rocks, he’s drunk
on sweat and the thought
of the hole where he lay in egg
before he learned:
the calling song, to beckon;
the courting song is softer, romantic,
and the concubine pulls her knees
up to her ears to listen.
Out of the Marram Grass
by Charity Burns
you hauled driftwood, brother,
spotted like the soft brown hide of an Appaloosa:
four fat logs to serve as limbs,
a shipping crate for the ribcage.
From the deep, waves capped with ice leapt up
like guard dogs, mouths frothing,
as I waded ankle-deep, rinsing out the sardine cans from lunch—
hooves for our Trojan.
That night, the moon flowered red.
Does god exist? In shallows,
anemones opened and closed their wrinkly mouths
in shifting currents, but all we heard
was a bell embayed in fog. How we had believed
the Puget Sound would be our adopted parent,
rocking us across its miles of eddying blue.
Reeds of winter tamarisk hurtled down the hillside,
the black sky dripping tears.
In the belly of our horse,
we slept as the soon-to-be-born,
balled up like fists and smelling of salt.