At a mile, measured
along the muzzle plane of my father’s arm,
iron-sighted between forefinger and thumb,
a dog-speck loped across the nail of his index,
from that pate of keratin.
He called it forth:
The man had a hawk’s vision:
So far away, the feral form floated in the fenceline
I mimicked his naming of nearly nothing.
Dropping his hand,
he named grainheads
as red as the sunred
arm which assayed
their weight by the acre:
sin tree wait
Maize. Milo. Sorghum.
Each a name for the same thing
for which I had no name.
He shucked a maizehead,
opened his hand, bleeding spoors
of red kernels, rolling in palmcreases
like a Crackerjack ball-in-a-maze:
Roll the ball from beginning to end.
In the maize’s beginning
our tractor and drill sowed
mouses and bunnies from the clods.
Hawks canceleered, censored the scenes
behind a flash of pinion and wing.
Cottontails, hares, vermin and vole
disseminated out of viscera.
Count three days
(index, middle, ring)
then fingercomb the
“Verily,” he said in seedred letters.
Tipped at his soiled index,
a maizeseed split by a tendril tail
like altricial kits spilt
from a doerabbit
harrowed by the plow.
Naming the crop split me
a thumb from a forefinger
a row from a row
and line upon line
I call out coyote.
Cover image by Bart Heird.
Sign Up Today
You don’t have to miss anything. We send out weekly notifications when we publish a new issue. We like you—so we won’t sell your info to Google or the NSA or even advertisers, they probably already have it anyway.