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Larkin Warren

Spring Conversation, Tuttle Farm

—for Mekeel McBride

"When I die," you said, "I think I’ll be reincarnated as a farm."

That first possibility impossible to think about here

While April begins its annual assault on ice

and a frost line that goes deeper,

we think, than any sadness we know.

The second possibility so logical

that trees begin to dance in shades of green.

Part of the farm’s memory,

you’ve been here before. Evidence:

your hair, color of soft winter wheat,

what the farmer puts down as quilt between snow

and November’s turned-under soil.

And your long arms, hands, fingers, graceful

as bean vines, resting places for birds,

those travelers who bring the sun north on their backs.

And your voice at evening, a salt breeze from the sea,

to cool and lull the summer field to its necessary rest.

I’ll forebear further comparisons—

between you and ripe tomatoes, say,

or abundant summer squash, or the shy-feeding celery

or the too-generous zucchini. It's enough

that you claim life beyond these stone walls,

beyond love in its season, beyond the place

where we stand talking now, leaning in our boots,

wind-whipped and watching for more green proof

that winter is behind us—that it has left us alive

and beginning to warm again, left you

to your soul’s cheerful naming

of what and where and who you will be after this.

The Leavings

I think, some early mornings before there is daylight,

of all his going-aways, the alarm clock, the packing, ,

her casual words, “do you have the…and also don’t forget

the other…” and I hear her voice in fear and his in fear,

I know it’s fear, but no one ever says fear.

I know there are guns and tanks and death and

fear where he is going, my father’s work is all about fear,

but no one says guns, tanks, death and fear. No one.

I learned to fill in the hollows with the words no one says.

In my childhood, wars seemed to keep coming.

He made it through, but he didn’t know how, he lost

friends, but he didn’t know how, it’s just that

one minute they were there, the next, they weren’t.

He saw men become only bodies, broken containers

for the men who had gone, but he didn’t know where.

He carried all the disappeared to the end of his life,

sorrowing to God for not saving everyone, or anyone

as far as he knew, he believed he would see them

on the other side, he pledged to apologize to them then.


Larkin Warren lives in the lee of Mt. Washington. She is an Alice James Books alumna, a grateful MacDowell Colony (former) resident, an NEA recipient, the wife of a journalist, mother of an independent filmmaker, and unrepentant spoiler of an Aussie shepherd mini who is currently being driven witless by chipmunks. She is very proud of having been a Hole-in-the-Head OG.


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