Like a bolt of green lightning,
it rises up into the clouds
from torn soil,
linking earth to sky.
Or perhaps we are merely
looking at its root end
and the misty garden above
is its anchor point.
Posh, says Ma. (She's still
mad I traded the cow away.)
Even magic seeds don't
work like that, boy—not
In either case
from afar it must look like
the one He used when He
stirred forth the world's flora
from the first mud.
Ma, in fact, tries to claim it's beckoning
me, but I counter by reminding
her of the time I fell
from the hayloft and the fear
There could be birds too, I argue.
The kind that likes to peck
Ma blinks at me hard
with her one good eye.
Why you gotta go bring
that up, boy? Ain't it bad
enough we have no milk
This makes me feel gut-struck, so
I look away
from the towering pillar of green,
noticing for the first time
its twinned umbilicus of shadow.
When the wind blows,
it churns like a thin black tornado—
given proper gradations,
it might measure time.
Ma, of course, remains on her own
'I suppose,' I say finally. 'Not much
sense in dawdling further.'
You always was a good son, Jack.
Even with all that girl chasin'.
Now, git goin'. I've a real hankering
for bean stew.
Not much later, when the fat
castle giant comes crashing
down, crushing Ma like a worm,
I feel terrible, but the truth is
she brought this upon herself,
and it is going to take me days
to clear the hacked vine.
Of little help are the mocking
crows, with their caw, caw, caws
But then, with their appetite for paleness,
whether eyes, grubs, or seed, crows
have always been malicious birds.