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Published: Tue Jul 1 2003
Art by Jin Suk
The Country I Am From

Chickens are for meat, eggs. A horse
eats as much as it pulls: a scoop of grain
for a day’s work. Men
are not fussy, particular
about what they eat. They smell like
grass, motor oil, sun.
A pond is for fish, fishing
for eating. Farm is not country—
domestication is key: The grass
folds over where it is told,
edges of the crop field
cut by a carpenter’s square,
fencelines a study
in geometry. The cows, chickens,
wife, stock and men—
all punctual to the sun,
feeding hour, chores.
At the end of the day
everything is clean, stowed:
the greased blades and shears;
the wet iron weight of denim and flannel
dried on the line,
folded in square stacks in the drawers;
the sheets hung in the night
to dry crisp from morning dew;
boots lined up, sentries
on the porch outside the door.
Mud clods, manure, leaves, dust
snubbed at the jam. All the patient
work for a clean quiet night,
people fed, an end as calm
and suitably attended as the birth.

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