A not so rare November day
that impersonates June,
bisque of sun,
when Sylvia, from the mailroom,
who walks with a cane,
/diabetes to claim
her right foot by spring/
joins me outside for a forbidden smoke.
Beautiful day, I say.
How do we make sense of it?
says Sylvia’s face
before casting alarm at the glaciers
melting in Alaska
and I share what I’ve heard
about the snow crab season
Cancelled, I tell her.
I can’t stop thinking of the fishermen, I say,
about to lose their livelihoods.
And all those people just being born,
never knowing the sweetness of crab.
Leo [the farmer] will die this afternoon,
forehead damp with kisses
from Gene [the tractor supplier]
and Dusty [the grower of feed corn],
queer but summoned gestures
from sturdy men
who talk with their hands.
Home remedies for Leo
meant the clench of his gut
like the summer squash
in his tomato beds.
We knew Leo from his blue eggs
and spiral notepad in his chest pocket
and honor stand on the side of the road.
Take what you want.
Leave your money in the jar.
He stood tightwire
on wood ladders to repair the plastic
of his hoop house with duct tape
and fed composting scraps
to a blind raccoon
[who stuck around].
Leo will die as so many farmers die,
shallow of air,
tallying from his bed,
wondering if he should have returned to church
all those years back
[when his wife begged him to],
the spent soil
of hundreds of thousands of fingerling potatoes
making rich, verdant crops
of his nails.
Christy Prahl is the author of the collection We Are Reckless (Cornerstone Press, 2023). A Best of the Net and two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her past and future publications include the Penn Review, Salt Hill Journal, Eastern Iowa Review, and others. She has held residencies at both Ragdale and the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow and is the founder of the PenRF reading series. She splits her time between Chicago and rural Michigan and appreciates subways and siloes in equal measure. More of her work can be found at christyprahl.wixsite.com/christy-prahl.