Evenings after we spend our days apart,
he in the field digging and tilling earth,
while I in the house cleaning and sewing:
We find each other in sunset silence,
share the day’s warmth in an embrace.
June evenings I find him before twilight
and dusk, sun painting brilliant gold across
the brown and green field. I take his rough hand
and we dance along the fence-line, slow waltz.
THE DROUGHT OF KNOWING, 1952
We make our home where I once walked evenings,
the house familiar, across from a friend,
and the field becomes his dream as it was
my father’s. He can see with fresh green hope
the rising corn, the crops that yield dinner,
the bills paid, and the presents of town joys.
We sow, plant seeds, both of us in the field,
until each day ends with showers and love
in the moonlit farmhouse; The stars whisper.
The first crop is sparse, weak, missing desire.
A drought returns. I cannot help wonder
if I brought it to the farm, our marriage,
a souvenir of my mother and father.
I tell him the story of my childhood:
the old treasures, the fights, the fire, her death.
His worn face shifts from soft flame of love
to hard ache and rigid line of anger:
“You knew this would happen to us. You knew.”
Laura Anne Heller lives in the Jackson area, works as a public librarian and archivist, and writes from her Mississippi and Kentucky roots. She prefers the persona poem, allowing older voices to tell stories from Southern history and culture. She has poems included in the Mongrel Empire Press anthology Ain’t Nobody That Can Sing Like Me: New Oklahoma Writing (2010), and a published book, Lexington Lives: Poems for Those Who Lived & Died in Lexington, Kentucky, 1800s-1900s (2013).