The Farm

by Kate Rogers                                                                                                          

After The City by C.P. Cavafy

For Gido, my Grandfather—Mikail Parasiuk (Mike)

Her letter flutters white
wings on the green vinyl
of the Buick’s back seat.
Your mother gave the farm
to your sister, the new son-in-law,
who tills it. In September
they brought your mother sheaves
to decorate the honey varnished harvest

Until you were tall
as your father
you led the horses
that gashed a single-furrow
from the soil for winter
wheat, brushed their shaggy
coats shiny through the cold
months. Learned the shape
of tractor pistons, gears
on a canvas tarp dark early
mornings in the barn.
you told yourself:
I’ll go to the city, fix
cars. Find a life better
than this one.

Yet every night on the road
back to Canora you dream
the farm. Chop at the same
tree with a blunt axe.

Your head nods, grip loosens
on the wheel. The Whitewalls
wander. Hum a different pitch
on the rumble strip. Dusk
creeps forward, drags its blue
blanket across the road.
Gido, pull over. Choose
rest. Your wife has not
made Kolach for ten years,
has forgotten how to braid
that bread. She cannot wait
for it to rise. Her foot pumps
the treadle of a city factory
machine. She feeds a hundred
sleeves a day to a darting needle.
Every morning you slide under
a stranger’s car. A bare bulb
glows in its metal cage while
you loosen bolts.

With the first snow a flurry
of swans brings their tundra
south to settle on the farm.
Your sister and her husband
sit by the kitchen window, watch
the swans bend, bob, dart
after stray grains among
brittle stalks.

The horses you raised from colts
will not come to the fence, not even
for Ontario apples that have
perfumed your drive, jostling
in their city cardboard.

Your mother will know the growl
of your gravel as you grind
to a stop outside her
door.  She will move away from
the window, wait for you
to let yourself in.

— from Juniper Volume 1, Issue 2