We pick locusts
sliding fresh from the dunes
like little Saint John the Baptists
wandering in our wildness.
Our little wilderness, sanctuaried
by a wheat truck and a chain,
arrives each time the metal-gray auger
slips under the patch of dust-
blue prairie sky.
We imagine the wide mouth
of the auger smiling at us
long and trembling. Comfortable
skin, tin-flecked and spotted,
reminds us of great grandma;
how the back of her hand
would turn over our faces
seeing with feeling,
expressions given two
…how the back of her hand
shimmered with the thickness of opals,
deep and complex in buried years, but
signing her failing liver. Grandma goes,
the auger returns like a great benefactor
feeding us in her place,
warm in memory.
With a grin, the animal repeats
familial habit, pacing over
four rust-red walls that buckshot has
bored through, leaden weevils
tunneled by the Bowmans next door.
Spiral grates with dust and we hear
the steady slice of wheat coming
as grandpa kneads the metal
knob forth and back in the meat-
and-honeyed palm of his hand.
Golden in the summer
clearing, the Jordan comes to us.
We laugh until
the sandy slide of wheat
cuts our voices
out and we can only
grab as our mouths fill
with deserts; our lungs
split as the hot
chaff belches into them
a violent resuscitation,
Stream rolls us under
like tiny spring hailstones.
When father pulls my shoulders
loose and shakes the grain free
I donâ€™t only feel it, again
I am born into the yeasty light.
Shallow scrape of machine-missed
chaff arches our back until
our heads are bleach-blonde
keystones to June.
Fingers dip, till, push, pluck
ripped bodies of grasshoppers still
throeing, newly cut.
We squeeze them tenderly and yell at the combines,
our fingers chalk green with mercy.