Kathryn Stripling Byer
She knew nothing more waited
for her at the end of the road. She had
everything she needed right here.
The legions of corn standing guard
at her windows. The lantana yielding its harvest
of grasshoppers. White leghorns raising
their temples of chicken shit under her house.
At the end of the road lay another road,
rutted and muddy in rain. In drought season
thirsty and treacherous. After that, what?
This is it, she declared to the preacher
who urged her to look toward the fields
of the hereafter. No change of seasons
there. No pig slops, no cow turds, no yard
to sweep everyday. Only light. Always
light. Thus she labored toward night
when her broody flocks settled
into the peace of their straw comforts,
somnolent hounds snored. The silence
of kitchen that signified she had no place
else to go now but bed. Bless me, cornfields,
for I have laid down unto night all I am, so much
body that I make the four poster creak.
Originally appeared in Southern Poetry Review