Ann Arbor Review


Chris Lord
Joseph McNair
Duane Locke
Lazlo Slomovits
Alan Britt
Shutta Crum
Tolu Ogunlesi
Jerry Blanton
Paul B. Roth
Fred Wolven
Felino Soriano
Sharon E. Boyd
Joanie Freeman
Jumoke Verissimo
Running Cub
Jeanpaul Ferro
S. P. Flannery
Kristina Marie Darling
Gary Beck
Dike Okoro
Karyn M. Wolven

(For Nickel Mines: 10/12/2006)

I drop my heels down the sharp edge of concrete
stretching the length of hamstrings and tendons,
then trot into tendrils of fog--afloat above the dirt road.
The western sky is smudged with night.
Pink is gashed across the east.

The silver nib of a jet pierces and punches through a ghostly path
scribing a new contrail upon the crosshatched sky.
Like me, it is heading east toward the morning star.  I speed up.
Lights come on in farmhouses.  Cattle naturally line up at barns.
A few hunched drivers pass, hugging the splayed edge of the road.

Uphill, I leave the fog and pass the mounded body of a woodchuck.
Like a well-rounded period, it is a death readily understood.
The rustle in the dry corn is more difficult to interpret.
The dying stalks have settled crookedly, disordering
the simple green march of summer--the knowledge of lines.

I pass the horse farm, and the house with two tenacious dachshunds,
then turn west to return home--and I see the moon.
Slightly flattened, it hangs crookedly above the horizon.
It is fitting, I think, for the moon to be imperfect today--
for today, in Nickel Mines, the Amish are creating a corn field. 
            It will be imperfect.
The Plain Brethren know only God can make perfection.

Rows of blond-silked corn will rise above blood-soaked roots--
above the disquieting outline of a razed schoolhouse
where little girls were lined up...and shot.
It is right that the blemished moon knows its lines by heart.

And there is no surprise in the starlings' scratchy cursive.
I watch it falter above the distant tree line and drop
into a branch-dark scribble...
            The boys were freed.
            The door was blocked.
            Against the wall, the girls lined up.

Some lines are impossible to translate.

Home again, I see morning's pink scar has widened.
Soon it will heal over, becoming the blue of an ordinary day.
I will bind it with sturdy, plain words I know how to spell.
I will soothe it with simple lines I can run my finger along
--and understand.

Shutta Crum, Ann Arbor



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