Failure — wide open failure,
scent of hot dust and sunrays
on the green of weeds baking
where they’re harvested all together,
walling this plot.

The dark king’s warfare has salted the ground.
This is expected.
Nothing is coming up but the most perverse of weeds,
grasses hard enough to draw blood.
The cracked soil is a whisper of release:

“Go. Take that sword
you were supposed to bury with your father
but couldn’t bear to,
not in this unhallowed and fruitless plain,
not with his old twisted bones.
Become the soldier he never was.
Become the rightful heir to it.”

We’ve gone broke here,
telling ourselves we had a heritage to save,
ancestors to make proud
while the war-machine ground up bone of earth
and the crops along with it,
us running behind with more seed, more desperate hope.

I’m done with this.
The hair-tearing sting of it,
of nursing half-dead animals
that run off and join wild packs,
of digging up great heads of leaves
to find no roots beneath.

I’m selling the last cow standing,
one final milking in a skin
for the first day’s walk.
My arms are strong
with tearing up masses of plants,
hoeing up rock-pregnant earth.
People won’t laugh at me for long.

In two bites the last small fruit of my labor —
a hard, bitter radish — gone,
except for its taint in my mouth.
I’ll stamp back over these sweat-sown fields.
There’s nothing to crush,
only years of work to haunt each step.
No more crops will grow, anyway,
until I’ve changed the world.

Bethany was raised mostly in the Boston area, was a teen mostly in rural Japan, and is currently mostly banished to Oklahoma for unknown misdemeanors. She helps run the family homestead while drinking too much coffee and reading too much manga. As a professional poet and fiber artist, she has long since given up on being taken seriously in society.

You can learn more about Bethany at her website: http://www.bethanypowell.com



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