A Red Woman Was Crying


























About Don







Shifting Agriculture

I The Garden Wife


On my knees in the dirt

woman's knife in hand,

doing women's work with you.

An outsider. Worse, a man.


Though married to others,

we garden together.

Ease down trails

in the cool bushy shade.

I shoulder your child home.


Your white body husband.

The old women

call out as we pass,

making small rude jokes

while they laugh.


II Marking Time


Marked on paper

are the days we cleared,

and the days we scraped the ash.

Where we planted. What I counted.

How I placed the stakes.


Needing no marks:

your back's sweat-sheen,

the rain waited out,


the food we cooked,

the child, sleeping.


One long-fallow's done

since 1 left you there.

Twenty years lost

in my counting of days.


Full second-growth

by your trees.


Has your other husband

cleared the forest for you?

Are you back at our place,

in our soil?


III Gardeners in the Supermarket


I dug out your image

from the dark slide case

and sold it. Now you reappear,

gazing at me from a magazine page,

as once you did through the lens.


Closing it, smiling, I wait in line,

while my son tells a stranger,

My Dad's picture's in there.

She thinks it's a picture of me.


You've been gone from the racks

for a month or so

when wrinkled lined paper

finally arrives,

bringing me the response from you:


I want to know

how many people

have seen this picture of me?


Thousands and thousands,

I'll answer, or millions.

Or, after all, maybe just me.


IV Near the Turf Farm


As blowing topsoil obscures the highway

I close the vents, turn on my lights,

and think of you, my garden partner,

you who showed me the marking of time

by changes other than days:


by the two or three more

long-cycle fallows

which will see us

to the ends of our lives.




Literary Anthro